One of the most popular areas of teaching etiquette is table manners. We all want to sit and eat with others who are clean, respectful, and enjoyable to be around. Poor table manners can turn a lovely meal into a disaster. Kids have a hard time understanding why they shouldn't spit out food they don't like or yell at the table. Kids have a tendency to do as they please. So it is a parent's job to instruct them and teach them the table manner rules.
Gratitude gives value to rules of etiquette. A thankful heart toward meals provided and the person who prepared the meal will be the foundation for table manners. Following a simple set of rules is only half the story. Teaching character and etiquette go hand in hand. A person who is grateful is naturally more respectful of those around her. Etiquette is graciousness in action.
The primary goal is to teach a child to be thankful to the Lord for providing the meal on her plate. However, a child may need more concrete steps before making that connection. Prayers over food should never become hollow or simply the ritual before diving in to feed your hunger. Here are possible solutions to encourage your child to become more thankful for his full plate of food.
- Since children are always asking for food then have them pay for it. Take them grocery shopping and give them a budget for spending money on snacks and lunches for the week. Do not give them more money or make deals to get extra snacks or even extra apples. Allow them the chance to work on a budget and make decisions.
- Use your next geography lesson to learn about a missionary your church supports. If possible have your child contact the missionary or the missionary's children to discuss the conditions where they live. Allow your child to see that in other countries children do not just hop over to McDonald's or the grocery store.
- Sponsor a Child is another way to give your child a concrete example of how desperate another child is for food and support. I am not associated with Sponsor a Child or an organization such as this so please check it thoroughly before deciding to support. Get your child involved in picking the child. Make this child part of your daily prayers and prayers before meal time. Your child will soon see how blessed she is for having a full plate.
- Christmas is coming and there will be requests to adopt a family, get involved with Samaritan's Purse, or work an evening in a soup kitchen. Whenever my family gets involved in something like this during Christmas I find my children focus much less on what they want and more on the needs of others.
Table Manners to Instill
- Sit while you are at the table. Do not stand on your chair, fidget, crawl around, or keep getting up and down.
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Napkins stay in our laps.
- Always say, "please pass the...", when you want something on the table. Never reach over anyone to grab something.
- Always sit and wait until everyone is seated to begin eating.
- Thank the cook for the hard work that went into the meal.
- Do not share your opinion on the food if you dislike it. Quietly eat around the food you do not like without making any noises or funny faces.
- Do not take large bites. Take small bite and chew and swallow before taking a drink.
- When you are done eating sit and wait. Ask to be excused from the table if you must get up.
- Always help clean up after the meal.
There are a lot of rules to remember. Pick out one or two to enforce a week. Your goal is to make these rules a habit. Do not overwhelm the child with placing all the rules on him at one time. He may not remember half of them if you do. The point is not to have to remember any of them but to do them automatically after quite a bit of practice.
Etiquette and Character Series
Join me for this series for advice and strategies to teaching classy character and elegant etiquette. This is part of the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch which is filled with amazing posts by amazing bloggers. Make sure you check out the page to learn more about the Pin to WinGiveaway!
Discovering Your God Given PurposeAlisha at Flourish
Growing GracefullyRichele at Under the Golden Apple Tree