Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers
In my house family mealtime is extremely important. And with mealtime comes the teaching of table manners. It’s certainly not always a formal affair in our home, but my wife and I think it’s important to teach our children how to act polite at the table.
I’ve put together several helpful tips that will come in handy when you’re working towards teaching your children table manners.
Practice Together: One of the best ways to teach your child table manners is to practice all together. When you introduce a new rule or manner to your child, discuss it at the dinner table. You can then, together, put the manner into practice. Ask your child, “How do we chew with our mouths close?” Then together you can both take a bite and practice doing just that.
One Rule at a Time: It’s extremely important not to overload your child with too many rules. Only introduce one rule at a time; if you want to work on eating with a fork, then save the “no elbows on the table” lesson for another day. Figure out what’s most important to you and your family and start there. Make each rule fun and positive – learning table manners shouldn’t be a negative experience.
Make Posters: My boys and I have enjoyed making posters for different things in the past, and I think making posters for table manners is a great idea. Together, and with the help of glue, markers and glitter, you can make a poster for each table manner you discuss. It gives you a chance to interact together and turns etiquette into a playful activity while still being educational. You can hang each poster on the wall and go over them together daily.
Positive Rewards: As is the case when learning many new things, positive rewards can often make all the difference. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but rewarding your child for implementing proper table manners is perfectly fine. I suggest sharing a special dessert, having an extra play date or watching their favorite movie.
Bring on the Toons: Letting your child’s favorite cartoon help with the education of table manners is a great tool, too. Most all toddler television shows have produced an episode or two about manners. Do some research and find an educational show to watch with your child to help in solidifying these new ideas.
Teaching manners should be fun and engaging for kids and parents alike. So have fun out there!