Teaching kids do's, don'ts at the dinner table


TAMPA, Fla. – Meals with kids can get messy in more ways than one. But going back to the basics may be just what your family needs to help keep your kids on their best behavior at holiday dinners.

Tia Young teaches image and etiquette classes at Roy's Restaurant in Tampa. She helps them learn the right way to dine.

"You dab like this and this. You don't do like that and wipe like you're drying your face off," explained Young.

Young dishes out the dos and don'ts: don't put condiments on your food until after the first bite, don't bring electronics to the table and don't mix your food together.

"I think manners are a lost art and I really want to bring them back," said Young. "With the younger ones, it's hard for them to sit still and not fidget or run around and mix food, you know, on the table and put in their drink."

Young also says cutting can be tough. 

"You're supposed to put the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. You're supposed to do it the, the American way, you're supposed to cut the food then put the knife with the rugged edges towards you then switch the fork to the right hand and then eat it," explained etiquette student Zayne Jack.

The class gives the kids a taste of what fine dining feels like.   Young says children younger than age 5 probably aren't ready to do fine dining. She says to start with a fast food restaurant then practice fine dining at home.

Additional Information:

Many kids struggle to understand how to act or how to eat properly at a dinner table. For many though, it's simply that they haven't been taught or shown good manners.  A way to help improve their manners at the table is to practice good habits while at home or at a fast food restaurant. A few pointers are:

  • How to sit at the table
  • How to use a napkin
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Ask for things politely
  • Wait until everyone is seated until you begin to eat
  • Do not yell out comments at table

(Source: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/more-life-learning/teach-your-kids-table-manners)

What not to do at the Table: Some things that are not appropriate at the table range from blowing on your food to picking your teeth. Some table manners are quite obvious, but others are some that we have never heard of. Mannerisms such as not taking a half-bite and not pushing away your plate may be less common, but grooming at the table and picking your teeth at the table are a few that should be common sense to most. (Source: http://www.etiquettescholar.com/dining_etiquette/table_manners/bad_table_manners.html)