I received this opportunity through Kraft and Social Moms to share how our family teaches dinner time manners.
To begin with I have an older daughter who takes table manners seriously. Elbows on the table is the major infraction she catches along with other minor ones, like reaching across the table, getting up without being excused, etc. She has actually sat down and taught classes with her younger siblings.
We always eat dinner together. Breakfast and lunch are casual and are not always eaten together. The children are allowed to read at lunch if they desire to. No electronics are allowed at any meal time. Dinner is our family time. Time to share what happened during the day, or any major news events. This is the meal you have to ask to be excused from the table and where table manners are strictly enforced.
Each child in our family has learned to set the table properly. They must set the table and serve the meal and drinks. Another child is assigned clean up. Sometimes it is for a casual dinner and other times they must set up with silverware properly placed, napkins folded, glasses set out, etc. We have even practiced for tea service for the girls, and for a more formal dinner. That way when they are invited out they will have knowledge of proper table manners.
Of course, being on the road as we are, they often are able to observe how others set their table etc. And sometimes after we have left they will discuss what they saw that they can improve on. Of course I do hear about the children who have not been taught manners also. You know the one who won't sit still at the table, or who talks with his mouth full, or of course the one that most disgusts my feminine daughters, is belching at the table.
We have also practiced polite dinner conversation. To look at someone when they speak to you. To make sure your mouth is empty before you answer. To speak clear enough that the person across the table can hear you.
I guess most of the table manners have been taught through dining together. Yes, we did teach some classes, but I believe more has been learned just by experience and by having a daughter in the home who is very big on manners. Mainly I think it is just paying attention to your children and correcting where necessary. To do this, we obviously have to take time. Also some things I set down, may not be things someone else would be concerned with. Dinner time needs to be more than just a bunch of rules you follow. Dinner time should also be enjoyable for the whole family.
“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”