Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to School Countdown #23: Steps to Table Manners

People judge others sometimes by the way they behave over the dinner table, whether it’s dinner at a friend’s house, business meeting with lunch or a date. So how can you teach your children to have good table manner and not burp, slurp and gross people out during dinner? Well, here are nine steps to begin the road to properness and etiquette:

1.      Point out the good things instead of all the wrong things your child does. Be specific too. Say, "I was so proud of you when you served yourself when the platter passed by."
  1. Don't make dinner an unpleasant "lecture time." That will turn kids off to manners, dinner and you.
  2. Be an example. Don't do things you don’t want your children to do. Check yourself.
  3. Don't label your child as a slob. Instead, point out the behavior in a neutral, practical way. For example: "It's a good idea to unfold your napkin so if food falls you won't stain your clothes."
  4. Approach manners as a game. One night a week, have a somewhat more formal dinner. Dress up, serve a special meal and expect more formal manners. That will help improve your kids' social graces.
  5. Teach your kids that manners don’t offend if there's nobody there. If you eat mashed potatoes with your fingers, and you're alone, or with a friend who has agreed to suspend that manner, it's not a violation.
  6. Make kids part of the tradition. Invite guests over and let kids help serve hors d'oeuvres. This helps them indirectly learn about the manners that surround eating.
  7. If you hear a burp….explain that in some cultures burping is a way of showing your appreciation, but here in America it's considered rude. If you were to do that in someone else's house, he might think you're a slob and may not want you to come back.
  8. Dine out once in a while. Fast food restaurants don't count. Try a nice restaurant and allow kids to order their own food, and assist in paying the bill and figuring out the tip.
Once again, please share your experiences, advice and success stories. Tell us what happened when you tried these steps with your children.
Source: Dr. Alex Packer, a psychologist and

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