Understanding proper table manners and teaching them to children


Although it might not be too common for families to eat at the table these days, understanding table manners is still important because you will probably visit restaurants or relatives' homes for dinner. Parents should teach proper table manners to their children as soon as possible so that this will be a habit for them. Some well-known dinner table rules include always chewing with the mouth closed, not using tech gadgets at the dinner table, not using the fork or knife to stab at food, always using your napkin and not slouching at the table.

Napkin etiquette

When you eat at the dinner table, you should not wipe your mouth but instead dab the food off. Your napkin should also be placed in your lap as you eat and if you need to leave the room temporarily, you should leave the napkin on your seat until you return. If you drop your napkin, it is fine to pick it up yourself unless a server is nearby and will pick it up.

Bread etiquette

Bread should not be cut with your knife if you are eating in a formal setting. Instead you should gently break a piece of the bread with your fingers. You should also take a butter knife and spread some butter on your plate instead of putting the butter knife directly on your bread. Never put butter on all pieces of your bread at once.

Conversational etiquette

It is fine to discuss a variety of topics at the dinner table, but if you are dining with strangers it is not a good idea to discuss touchy subjects such as politics, sexuality or religion. The reason is that most people have strong views on these, and you don't want to cause drama at the dinner table. You also should not yell at others during the conversation and keep your personal feelings about certain guests to yourself.

What about foods that are hard to eat?

If you are served artichokes, you should break off one artichoke leaf at a time. Then dip the base of the artichoke leaf in the sauce and suck the fleshy part out with your teeth. For artichoke hearts, use a knife and fork. To eat asparagus, you should eat a few pieces at a time and not the entire stalk.

Additional etiquette for the dinner table

Avoid taking photos at the dinner table. Do not smoke in front of the guests. You should not treat the restaurant's wait staff in a rude manner as this shows a lack of respect and class. Don't use knives or forks to point at guests, and don't blow on hot food.

Ways to teach children table manners

Eat together as a family in the kitchen often and incorporate the table manners that are being learned. Politely correct the children when they do something that is not right, then demonstrate the right way to do it. Give the children age-appropriate books on table manners with photos and simple explanations. Have them read these every day and then give them practice sessions during the week.


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