Brush Up on Table Manners

Several major holidays are just around the corner. Many people will attend family gatherings that usually include food. Or in the case of Thanksgiving – the holiday seems to revolve around the food. So are you a little nervous that your kids who eat way too many meals on the run may not know how to behave at the table? Is it time for a quick lesson on table manners?

A few gentle reminders at the breakfast table, in the car on the way to school, or as you’re fixing the evening meal, can do the trick. We aren’t trying to turn the kids into walking advertisements for Emily Post. But we are attempting to teach a few basics that will help relieve some of the stress for everyone when kids are placed in social settings.

Here’s the list I used with our girls.

  • Ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes. Don’t reach across two people to get the bowl.
  • Chew with your mouth closed. Save the gross “look at me” games for home.
  • Eat and then talk. It’s hard for Aunt Tina to understand you with your mouth full of green beans.
  • Try, try, try to sit up in your chair and keep your elbows off the table. We used to sing a song about this because everyone forgets.
  • Compliment the cook on something you like (can’t get enough of the noodles) and keep quiet about Uncle Rob’s dressing you couldn’t make me eat.
  • Say “please” and “thank you.” This will get you big points for being well mannered.

So what’s the point of all this? In the podcast Lori talked about how manners are a way for society to keep things pleasant. Observing basic table manners will make meals go more smoothly. When children, and adults, use their manners they are showing respect for the people gathered around the table.

What table manners do you teach your kids?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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2 thoughts on “Brush Up on Table Manners

  1. No cell phones or ipods at the dinner table or breakfast counter. When someone is trying to talk to you, look up from your ipod or stop texting.

  2. These are examples of how manners can change over time. We could never have anticipated the need for manners regarding all the electronic tools.

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