14 Table Manners that Your Child Should Know

After interviewing for an exciting employment opportunity, the young candidate was rejected, “When I asked for real feedback, the interviewer told me that although my job skills and education were a good fit, some of my table manners raised a red flag. The position entails many client dinners and I guess I had a few bad habits that they saw at meals during the interview process.” The candidate continued, “I would have loved to have been taught proper table manners by my parents. I feel at a real disadvantage, and I am quite frankly, embarrassed by my lack of manners.”

Sadly the situation the interviewee faced above is not uncommon. Competition is fierce for good jobs and seats in good universities. There are many more highly qualified applicants than positions. Polished table skills are a needed asset and social skill in this competitive culture.

Every parent wants to launch their children into the world with the skills they need to succeed. Equipping children with good table manners is an important lesson that all parents should want to give to their children. Using good table manners allows the focus to be placed on the conversation not on the act of eating. Having good table manners gives people the confidence to participate in any dining situation with ease.

Start introducing manners lessons slowly to very young children and add more refined lessons as the child matures. Consistency and repetition are very important when teaching children. Parents will have to reinforce the rules time and time again until good practices become habit. Remind children whenever a slip in manners occurs but don’t scold or nag.

Practicing good manners daily will eventually lead to mastery and manners will become second nature. As children develop fine motor skills, their use of utensils and glassware will improve. With constant repetition, by the early teen years, kids will have built up a comprehensive collection of manners which parents need only fine-tune for teens to be capable of attending the most formal of occasions.

For the well being of the children, even busy families should find the time to sit down together each evening for a meal. The most simple of meals, including take-out fare, are fine choices. Make sure that the food is transferred and/or served in serving dishes and that the family uses dinnerware. If dinner is impossible on certain evenings, families can sit down later in the evening for dessert; make sure to set the table and use dinnerware and utensils.

Teaching children the proper way to set the table is a perfect start for introducing the use of utensils, plates and glasses. Explain where each utensil is placed, what it is for, when it is used, and the correct way to hold it. Young children love being given a responsibility and will happily and proudly set the table each evening. Put placemats, napkins, silverware, plates, cups and bowls within reach of children to facilitate easy table setting. A good idea in homes with small children is to purchase nice quality melamine dishes so when plates drop they will not break.

Children do not learn proper table manners overnight. It takes years of repetition and consistent training to refine their skills. Parents have eighteen years to help shape their child’s table manners so there is plenty of time to patiently work with them. Expect lots of errors and missteps, use gentle guidance, never scold or embarrass, just kindly correct and continue eating.

If parents begin teaching manners when their children are toddlers, by the time the kids are in kindergarten they will have mastery of the basics.

The following is a list of table manners that your child should have a good grasp of by age six.

  • Wash their hands and face before sitting down to the table.
  • Sit down in their proper seat and put their napkin in their lap.
  • Wait to begin eating until everyone is seated and has been served. Many families wait until an adult gives permission to start eating.
  • Stay seated in their seats without wiggling in their chairs, going under the table, or getting up and down.
  • Say, “Excuse Me,” and ask permission to leave the table.
  • Elbows do not belong on the table.
  • Mouths should stay closed while chewing and pieces should be bite sized.
  •  “May I please” and “Thank you” should be used when children would like food and never reach across the table.
  • Participate in the conversation during dinner and no interruptions when other people are talking.
  • Slurping, burping, squealing, singing, humming are all sounds that are not to be made at the table.
  • It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about what is being served for dinner.
  • Before getting up at the end of the meal say, “May I please be excused?”
  • Ask if adults would like them to clear their dinner plate.
  • Thank the cook.

Preparing children for adulthood starts the moment the baby is placed in the arms of the mother. Teaching children to use good table manners is a wonderful gift that will serve them well throughout their entire lives. Parents will be proud that their children are using the good manners that they have taught them, and more importantly children will be polished and refined and capable of being comfortable in any situation.

     

  

           

Porn Stars Do Not Make Good Role Models

There is an audible groan from two mothers pushing their little children in strollers through the mall, as they are passed by a scantily clad group of teenage girls. “What parent would let her daughter leave the house like that?” she says referring to the group of girls in matching short shorts and tight, midriff baring shirts. 

Girls dressing in “Ho” costumes on Halloween, little girl t-shirts with sexual innuendo emblazoned across the chests, reality television that shows little girls expertly utilizing a stripper pole, musical lyrics that are sexually explicit and degrading to women, the demise of dating and the rise of “hooking up” are all appalling topics to parents of underage children.

Books like Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!) and Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture discuss in detail the detrimental effect that the highly sexual content on television, in music lyrics, in books, and on the internet has on today’s youth.  Sadly, girls are buying the false bill of goods that the media is selling them; that boys only want them for sex and their promiscuity leads to raised social status. They have also been led to believe that the only way to empowerment and equality is to be sexually aggressive like men (what men?). Their role models are “stars” like Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and porn star Jenna Jameson. Not exactly the women parents would hand pick to shape their innocent little girls.

Although the findings in the above mentioned books are disappointing and depressing it is probably not shocking to parents to learn that pornography has gone mainstream. One need just turn on the television to bare witness. Eighty three year old Hugh Hefner has a popular reality show glorifying his bizarre sexual relationship with three women, the youngest of whom celebrated her twenty first birthday while taping and wishes she were a pimp. MTV glorifies bawdy dress and behavior on shows like The Real World.

Lewd behavior and exposure to overtly sexual stuff is not what parents want for their kids. Parents know that objectifying little girls is not good for their moral, emotional, physical or spiritual welfare. Putting aside the frightening risk of pregnancy or catching an STD, moms and dads don’t want their girls getting used and degraded and they don’t want their boys to view the female half of the population as sexual objects begging them for sex.

A very loving and conservative mother recounts a story that horrified her. “I look hot!” her four year old said modeling a little two-piece bathing suit. “Over my dead body!” mumbled the mother to herself as she gently removed the suit from her little one and chucked it in the trash. “No way am I letting her go down that road!” the mother adamantly declared. She proudly continued, “I had the first of many talks that I will have with my daughter about dignity, self-respect and real power.”

Acts like this simple one the above mother displayed, exemplify the kind of guidance that parents must give to their children starting when the children are very young. As the many media outlets bombard kids with inappropriate sexual content it is important that parents stand strong, be positive role models and enforce the standards of conduct and dress that they know is correct.

Another simple act parents can take is to stop giving hard earned money over to stores that sell sexually explicit material and clothing targeted to children. On page 244, of  her insightful book Prude, Carol Platt Liebau notes, “Every time anyone makes it clear that over-the-top sexual dialogue or images aren’t acceptable for public consumption, she strikes a small but meaningful blow for a cleaner, more wholesome culture.”

It is not only girls that are being affected by today’s highly charged sexual climate, boys suffer too. Boys shouldn’t be seen as sexual troglodytes incapable of being kind and caring and only out for their own selfish needs. Like girls they are complex, sensitive and loving and need to be taught that being a man means having honor and decency.

 “Eliminate dating and replace it with ‘friends with benefits?’” scoffs a dedicated husband and father of two little boys. “I would never want to raise boys who treat girls like that. How are they going to learn to relate to the opposite sex if they use them like that?” He continues, “I want my boys to experience the kind of deep love and happiness that I have with my wife.”

For some reason it is difficult for some parents of underage children to fully embrace the role of parent. They are under the misconception that they can be buddies with their children, or “parenting partners”. It has become almost a cliché now, “children don’t need their parents to be their friends, they have enough friends, parents need to parent.” It is not necessary or prudent to be the “cool mom” or the “cool dad”. Level headed, thinking grown ups know and celebrate the fact that they are not on the same level playing field with their underage children. Let the kids have their turn at being kids; parents: it is time to let go of childhood and delight in the role of parent.

As sophisticated as children today seem, they are not miniature adults. Children desperately need and wish for their parents to guide them through the tough stages of childhood. Using wisdom, intellect, established values and adult problem solving skills parents can help lead the way to a bright and terrific future. If parents abdicate their authority in the hopes of being their children’s friend, parents shouldn’t be surprised when Jenna Jameson takes over their role.