In my family, we eat out quite often. During every meal, I find myself teaching my kids table manners. The older they get, the more the lessons increase into newer and improved manners. Teaching kids table manners now and the importance of etiquette will help them for the rest of their lives.
I eat out about 3 times a week. My kids will eat with me about once a week outside of the home. We visit many casual restaurants and they love kids' menus. You can start teaching kids table manners as soon as they begin to talk and understand words. In the beginning stages, a "yes or no" will suffice but as time goes on you can begin to use more descriptive words with them.
I composed this list of table manners for kids by enjoying dinners at the table whether we're at a restaurant or at home:
1. Show gratitude before the meal. This could be a prayer or just thanking mom and dad for the food.
2. Wash hands. Healthy hygiene is so important, especially with kids and food. Teach your kids to be consistent with washing their hands before meals and they will start to do it without thinking twice.
3. Use utensils and napkins. Don’t lick your fingers or eat foods that are not finger foods with your hands. Also properly use straws with public glasses.
4. Be polite. Use your manners by saying excuse me and thank you.
5. Ask to be excused from the table. I think the Cosby Show represented this well. Ask to be excused before leaving the table and wait for your parent/adult to excuse you.
6. Allow them to order their own food. Teaching kids how to order food for themselves helps them with independence and self-confidence as they grow up.
7. Napkin on the lap. Once they start sitting alone, it’s essential to use the napkins and try not to wipe their mouths on them. Just use them to avoid making a mess.
8. Electronics. I am on the fence about the use of electronics. For some meals outside of the house, I will let them bring them. During the meal, the electronics are off-limits. If we are eating dinner at home, we do allow them to watch TV.
9. Don't cause disturbances. Don't run throughout the restaurant. Walk and try not to interrupt any other parties. Keep the volume down while inside the restaurant.
10. Offer to help with dishes and other household chores while at home. This is so important because as kids grow older and become more self-sufficient, they will begin to do this for themselves.