How to Remind Kids About Table Manners

by Shelley Frost

Elbows on the table, talking with a full mouth, wiggling in her chair -- your child's table behavior isn't always pleasant, even if you've taught her table manners. Gentle reminders help your child develop her manners over time. You will likely encounter new situations at the dinner table that remind you of additional manners to teach. General reminders of manners and making the most of those teachable moments at the dinner table help your child learn to handle any dining experience with impressive manners.

Eat meals as a family so you see what type of manners your child is using. Use these daily meals as a way to model dinner manners yourself. Keep your mouth closed while you chew, use your silverware, compliment the meal and remember to say "please" and "thank you." By using table manners yourself, you become a living reminder of how your child should act.

Make your own place mats that show table manners. Take pictures of your child or yourself observing manners, such as sitting with a napkin in your lap or chewing with your mouth closed. Glue the pictures to a piece of paper. Laminate the paper to protect it. Each time she looks at her place mat, she is reminded of her manners.

Point out poor table behavior when it happens. Verbally remind your child to wait to talk until she finishes chewing. Ask her to sit still with her feet under the table if she's wiggling in her seat. When she complains about the food, tell her she should never say negative things about the meal. Remind her to thank the cook even if the food isn't her favorite.

Notice when she uses proper table manners. Tell her, "I like the way you put that napkin in your lap when you sat down. And look at the way you're using your fork instead of your fingers." This reinforces how you want her to act at the dinner table instead of only pointing out what she's doing wrong.

Practice table manners outside of meal times. Pretend play is an easy way to remind your child about table behaviors. Have a tea party that focuses on proper table manners, even for the stuffed animals.

Items you will need

  • Paper
  • Laminating material

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images