Dining Etiquette for kids

Screaming kids, throwing spoons and napkins, making noise, running around, fussy eating, nagging

attitude or tantrums, etc. might be a common scene at the restaurant but it surely raises eyebrows,

making it embarrassing for you. Some might ignore saying kids can do things like this, you might

scold your kid saying how ill-behaved they have become and your kid might continue doing it saying

it’s okay to do such things. But, the situation only gets worse because they actually do not know how

to behave in a restaurant, probably because no one taught them or they don’t follow proper

guidelines at home. They feel they can behave the same way they do at home. You are their best

teacher to bring both of you out of such situations.

As parents, we always want the best for our children. We strive to make them successful, happy and

want them to achieve their dreams. We try to inculcate the positive values of life in them. And what

better way to start teaching simple things at home so that they become a well-mannered person in

their lives.

Teaching your child about table manners and dining etiquettes should start early in life so that they

are groomed both for indoors and outdoors. Having a well-behaved kid, while going out or travelling

is always an added advantage.

Dining etiquettes not only help in proper table manners, but it also helps a person to develop

positive virtues. It reflects a child’s personality and upbringing. The things you teach them now will

be an asset for them the rest of their lives.

Few important restaurants, dining, table or eating manners (whatever you want to call them) you

can teach your child, which stays with them forever:

Patience is a virtue: Make them understand the gesture of waiting till food has been placed on the

table and everybody seats for their meal. Many a times, we see kids getting impatient while waiting

for the order to arrive. Make them understand that they should start eating only when everybody

has started and not to rush into the food as it arrives. They should wait till they are served their

portion on the plate. Many kids tend to bang spoons on plates or the table and make noise. Make

them understand to refrain from such things as it can be disturbing for others and they would feel

the same way of someone else did it.

Right things in the right place: Make them place the napkins on their lap before they start eating.

Teach them to use proper cutlery and not to use their hands while eating for things, which needs to

be had with spoon and fork. Gradually, teach them, which type of utensil to use for which type of

food like soup in soup bowl and so on. Also, they should not take a lot more than they can eat; this

way they can leave a lot behind on the plate and it is not a good sign- both for one’s behavior and

the host. They should learn to waste as less as possible.

Talk less, chew more: It is very important for kids to understand that they should not talk while

eating. This is a bad habit as food spills over and also eating is incomplete. They tend to do so while

eating at home, but make them understand that always finish their current bite before speaking or

asking or putting more in the mouth. They should always chew the food than gulp it for proper


Sit and Eat: This is an important dining etiquette that we tend to put in them most of the times. As

toddlers, our kids tend to run and move around when they are eating. So, when they grow up and

they sit on their own, it is better to make them sit while feeding them. As infants also, try to use the

high chair so that they know that they are supposed to sit while eating. Though many might feel that

it is too early to teach them, but there is no harm to start early in life. It is better to take smaller

portions at a time and finish before the next one. Tell them to take one or two things at a time on

the plate because excess food on the plate makes it difficult to eat and a lot gets wasted.

Pass it on: They should learn to ask for the food from the person sitting closer to it, rather than

reaching for it across the table. If they try to get the food far away from them, they might interrupt

others eating or even drop glasses or something on the table and create a mess. They should always

ask an elder to serve them if they have finished rather than taking it themselves as utensils might be

big, heavy and hot for them.

Know the table signs: The most important thing is following the signs before, during and after

eating, especially when they are in a restaurant or at someone’s place. Teach them basic table signs

such as how to place the fork and spoon while eating, or if they want something more or when they

have finished eating. Show them pictures on how to place cutlery for depicting different things on a

table, especially how to keep them when they have finished eating. This is best done with pictures

and also showing them when you do the same.

Enjoy while you eat: Most importantly, teach them to enjoy their food at the table. Tell them to

leave all worries behind and enjoy their meal. It is also a good time to talk about family, their

hobbies and other good things. Also, make them understand no to make grumpy or sad faces while

eating at restaurants or somebody’s house as this can make others conscious that something might

be wrong. A proper meal is as important to the body as to the mind. Make them eat full meals and

Leaving the table: Teach them how to excuse themselves from the table either for going to the

restroom or anything else. They should not just abruptly leave when they are finished and others are

eating. They should always ask for permission to leave. If they do not have anything urgent, they

should sit at the table till everybody has finished eating. Make them finish the food before getting up

and leaving. Unfinished food on the plate is not a proper gesture.

The best way to teach all this to your child is to ‘Walk the Talk’. They learn what they see. So, better

to set an example by following dining etiquettes at home and while you are out. You should

encourage everybody eating together at home and avoid using mobile phones unless very urgent.

This is a good way to spend family time, talking and smiling.

Do not scold your child if they are doing it wrong, especially in public; this will only make them more

stubborn and irritable. It is better to make them understand politely what they are doing wrong and

why is it important to exhibit proper dining manners. If not once, they will surely pick up good habits

by the next few times. So, follow a ‘See, Think and Learn’ approach. Let them see what others are

doing, let them think if what they are doing is right and they will simply learn their own way.

Make the manners a ‘Fun Learn’ session rather than forced teachings. You can put up small manner

magnets in their rooms or fun charts to illustrate manners or good habits. Praise them when they

exhibit a good manner. Demonstrate the importance of good dining habits with different fun ways

like you can make them the dinner host for a day or let them set the tables. These habits stay with

them for the rest of their lives.

As someone has said “Your beliefs does not make you a better person, your behavior does.” So, help

your child become a better person TOMORROW by teaching and influencing their behavior TODAY!