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How To Teach Your Children Good Table Manners

You've probably had the unpleasant experience of eating with people who eat with their mouths open or who talk about inappropriate subjects at the table. Nobody wants to hear the details of someone's bloody nose! Teaching your children how to act at the table actually opens the door to politeness in other parts of their lives. Here are some ideas on how to help your children learn good table manners.

Make It Fun - Do you remember going to camp as a youngster and hearing the song that told you not to put your elbows on the table? The person who was caught doing that learned very quickly that he or she was going to be on the receiving end of some fun teasing. You can teach your children how to have good tables in the same way. For example, saying the magic words, please and thank you, is essential to good table manners. If your child asks for the butter without saying the word please, have your child make up a funny story about the reason he or she wants the butter. If your child leaves the table without asking to be excused first, have him or her do something funny. One idea is to make him perform a silly song for the rest of you. That cold backfire, of course, if your child loves attention. You'll just have to tailor the fun to your children's personalities.

Have Formal Meals - Of course, every meal should be one where your children act appropriately. Take it a step further, though. Choose at least one meal a week where the children have to come to the table looking their best, even dressing up a bit. Have this meal be one where the family practices all they have learned during the week. Introduce your children to new foods. This will later be important as they are offered different foods at somebody else's home. 

Eat At A Restaurant - Going to a restaurant as a family is a great way for your children to implement everything they've learned at home. Help them to understand the menu and encourage them to give the waiter their order by themselves. If they want French fries instead of asparagus, show them how they can ask for substitutions. Of course, your example is the best teacher your kids have. When things are going perfectly, they can see how you handle specific problems. They'll see that, instead of saying, "Where in the world is our food?" you politely ask, "Excuse me, can you please give us an estimate of when our food will arrive?" 

Let your children take turns planning menus and choosing the restaurant they want to visit.