Kids aren't born knowing how to behave at the dinner table. Talking about dining etiquette can be a fun way to help your kids consider why manners matter in lots of situations.
Here's a checklist of some generally accepted table manners. Share the list with your kids as a springboard for discussion. Together, consider the whys and wherefores of following, or not following, each "rule." (For instance, if you put a napkin on your lap, you won't get food stains on your clothes.)
See which manners you want to encourage at your table. Any others you would add?
Table Manners Checklist
- Put a napkin on your lap.
- Wait for everyone to have food before digging in.
- Use utensils—especially for large or messy foods.
- Take chewable-size bites.
- Keep your mouth closed while chewing.
- Wait until your mouth isn't full to talk.
- If there's something you're not going to eat, just leave it on the plate.
- Be considerate of the person preparing the food (no rude comments about appearance or taste).
- Ask for food to be passed if it's out of immediate reach.
- Say "please" and "thank you" when food is passed.
- Use a napkin to wipe your mouth.
- Stay seated until you're ready to be excused.
- Help clear the table.
Manners Beyond the Table Here are some additional questions to talk about with your kids:
Why write a "thank you" note? Why cover your mouth when you sneeze? Why hold a door for someone walking in behind you?
Goofus and Gallant® Goofus and Gallant continue to provide kids with examples of considerate and inconsiderate behavior. Here's what they've been up to in Highlights® recently.
Gallant says, "Please pass the napkins." Gallant says, "Mind if I change the station?" Gallant cleans up when he uses the kitchen.
On the other hand... Goofus wipes his mouth on his sleeve. Goofus thinks it's funny to scare little kids. Goofus leaves a mess.
In each issue of Highlights there also appear letters from kids describing their own Goofus and Gallant moments. A young girl named Upamanyu said she felt like Gallant when she shared her toys with her little sister, while Brendan wrote, "I feel like Goofus when I leave my clothes on the floor."
Learning good manners, consideration, and responsibility is a lifelong process. Enjoy sharing the journey with your kids.