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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday we got a new table and chairs set & now we can all eat together as a family!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/joy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="joy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/joy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="joy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/joy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="joy"><br><br>
So, now to teach table manners. What to teach? What do you expect of your kids at four? Are there any books/videos that helped you teach the whats and whys of being polite & respectful to each other while eating?<br><br>
I'm also interested in learning more about "formal" table manners for myself for business-type lunches or other special occasions.<br><br>
TIA!!<br><br>
-rockport-
 

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Lucky you! I can't wait until we have a table and chairs again. We got rid of ours to use the space as a playroom so right now we use the barstools at the counter.<br>
My son just turned 4. A few rules we have are:<br>
- no feet on the table (yes, we had to make this a rule)<br>
- we sit to eat, no getting up and down from the table<br>
- no toys at the table<br>
- no hands, unless appropriate for the food we're eating<br>
- we're working on chew with your mouth closed<br>
- even if you're done eating we still sit at the table so we can visit and talk about our days, it's family time<br>
- no rude noises or potty talk<br>
- it's ok to make a mess as long as it's not done intentionally(not really a 'rule'). My son gets very upset if he spills or gets food on his shirt so we're trying to let him know it's ok. Accidents happen.<br>
-I'm sure there's a few more<br><br>
We've had most of these rules since he was eating independently.
 

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We consider table manners very important. First of all know that these things take reinforcement for years, so don't get discouraged if after a year of constant reminders, they still forget and the finer points take longer. What's important to *us*:<br><br>
- Sit still and don't fidget<br>
- Napkin in lap<br>
- No elbows on table<br>
- No talking with food in the mouth<br>
- Chew and swallow before taking another bite<br>
- Don't take a drink when you have food in your mouth (gross backwash... ick!)<br>
- Wipe your mouth before taking a drink<br>
- Don't chew with mouth open<br>
- Elbows off table<br>
- Don't lean your utensils against the plate and table<br>
- Don't take bites out of dinner rolls... you tear off a piece, butter it and put it in your mouth<br>
- Cut your food one or two bites at a time<br>
- Don't switch your utensils from hand to hand (this is cultural) and use the knife as the "pusher", or your bread, DEFINITELY not your fingers<br>
- Bring your drink to your mouth even if it has a straw... never lean over to sip from your drink<br>
- Say please and thank you<br>
- When getting up from the table, the napkin is put in the seat, not on the table<br>
- Tip the bowl away if you're eating soup, not toward you<br>
- Butter knife is for buttering, not cutting... bread is broken and butter is never applied directly to the entire roll, but each piece as you break it and bite it from butter that is on your bread plate<br>
- Always give server your cup and saucer, not just the cup, for refills and serve from left, remove from right<br>
- When not finished, fork and knife are placed in an inverted V on the plate... when finished, they are put together with the handles to the lower-right corner of plate and they are not leaned on the table<br>
- Say "excuse me" when getting up from the table<br>
- Napkin is not a snot rag - go get a tissue if you need one, or if you have to cover a sudden sneeze, get a new napkin<br>
- When finished, napkin is placed next to the plate... not on the plate<br>
- When someone asks for the salt, pass the pepper, too, and visa versa<br>
- Know which utensil is appropriate, but don't request (for example) chop sticks for Asian food if your host has provided fork and knife<br><br>
These are some of the manners we have been in the process of teaching dd over the years. She is 8 now and has most of them down, and uses them appropriately when we have guests or eat outside the home, but we're not as strict at home, although we do remind her.
 

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Well, we may sound like slobs after that last post. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
My almost 4 year old is expected to use his utensils, use his napkin, chew with his mouth shut, not talk with his mouth full, no body parts on the table other than hands, and talk nicely.
 

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Use utensils appropriately<br>
Use the napkin to wipe your hands<br>
Don't play with your water<br>
Don't talk with your mouth full<br>
No getting up from the table during the meal<br>
Ask to be excused when you're done<br>
Take you dishes to the sink when you're excused<br><br>
We are also working on not interrupting others, though that's not table-specific.<br><br>
The rules in the previous post are way fancier than anything I'd expect at a family dinner. We don't, for example, even <i>own</i> a butter knife.
 

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<br>
- Sit still and don't fidget<br>
- Napkin in lap<br>
- No elbows on table<br>
- No talking with food in the mouth<br>
- Chew and swallow before taking another bite<br>
- Don't take a drink when you have food in your mouth (gross backwash... ick!)<br>
- Wipe your mouth before taking a drink<br>
- Don't chew with mouth open<br>
- Elbows off table<br>
- Don't lean your utensils against the plate and table<br>
- Don't take bites out of dinner rolls... you tear off a piece, butter it and put it in your mouth<br>
- Cut your food one or two bites at a time<br>
- Don't switch your utensils from hand to hand (this is cultural) and use the knife as the "pusher", not your bread, DEFINITELY not your fingers<br>
- Bring your drink to your mouth even if it has a straw... never lean over to sip from your drink<br>
- Say please and thank you<br>
- When getting up from the table, the napkin is put in the seat, not on the table<br>
- Tip the bowl away if you're eating soup, not toward you<br>
- Butter knife is for buttering, not cutting... bread is broken and butter is never applied directly to the entire roll, but each piece as you break it and bite it from butter that is on your bread plate<br>
- Always give server your cup and saucer, not just the cup, for refills and serve from left, remove from right<br>
- When not finished, fork and knife are placed in an inverted V on the plate... when finished, they are put together with the handles to the lower-right corner of plate and they are not leaned on the table<br>
- Say "excuse me" when getting up from the table<br>
- Napkin is not a snot rag - go get a tissue if you need one, or if you have to cover a sudden sneeze, get a new napkin<br>
- When finished, napkin is placed next to the plate... not on the plate<br>
- When someone asks for the salt, pass the pepper, too, and visa versa<br>
- Know which utensil is appropriate, but don't request (for example) chop sticks for Asian food if your host has provided fork and knife<br><br>
QUOTE]<br><br><br>
That's a good specific list! We do most of this, minus a few (crossing the utensils, not leaning the utensils, and passing the salt and pepper at the same time...I'm not familiar with that.<br><br>
People often scoff at manners and etiquette, but I think it's better to know the cultural expectation and choose to break it than to not know...plus, I found as I got older and my life changed it really helped give me confidence in unusual situations.<br><br>
I noticed DD, 5, eats like Henry the 8th lately or the cookie monster---crumbs flying everywhere, so that is our big battle currently. Taking small bites and slooooowing down so you're a pleasant dinner companion.
 

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Wow, my kids are feral compared to some, lol! We recently had to post our rules for mealtimes where we can refer to them.<br><br>
No banging or earthquakes (shaking the table)<br>
speak politely and with inside voices<br>
sit in your chair<br>
must be dressed (this means no pajamas, I require them to get dressed before breakfast)
 

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We've had trouble for years with, roughly, "if you don't like the food, it's OK, but loud YUCK, insulting the cook, demanding other food, whining that you're hungry or that your parents are mean, gagging/vomiting noises unless you're actually gagging/vomiting are OUT."
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wow!<br><br>
What a great variety of responses! Thanks for all the great ideas, mamas! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"> It's been really nice to have family time around the table. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Eat"><br><br>
So, is there a certain age you ask your kids to start help setting the table and bussing their places?<br><br>
Thanks again, <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br>
-rockport-
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>rockportmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15407321"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">So, is there a certain age you ask your kids to start help setting the table and busing their places?<br><br>
Thanks again, <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br>
-rockport-</div>
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DS is about to turn three and has been helping with both of those things for the past year. But it's not a required chore or anything. It's just that he's always in the middle of everything when I'm fixing dinner so I send him to the table with a handful of forks or the salt shaker or whatever. And we didn't really "teach" him how the place settings go yet but he goes around saying "this one mama's" "this one papa's" etc. So the fork/napkin/knife/spoon layout might be off, but for now I'd rather have him get in the habit of doing it and it being fun b/c he's doing it by himself than make it tedious by hovering and pointing out his mistakes. When we do sit down to eat, DH and I will sometimes rearrange certain things to show him where they belong.<br>
He's definitely expected to participate in clearing the table and usually helps load the dishwasher. But again, we never really made him do this or anything. It's just what everyone does when the meal is finished. Although, we also live with an adult with special needs who often needs a gentle reminder to do these things, so that may have helped reinforce it for DS.
 

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My not quite 4 year old has been setting the table for awhile now. He can take the dishes to the counter, but that's normally his brother's job. I don't expect him to set the table perfectly, but he does put the silverware beside the plates and the glasses above the plates.
 

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I've got a 4yo, 11yo, 14yo, 16yo & 17yo. They all know about good table manners, but I generally don't require much for regular family dinners at all. With my group the focus has always been more on polite conversation. But company coming over or going out to dinner requires better manners and with the littler ones we discuss before hand what's expected and also we often play 'nice dinner' with stuffed animals and food from the play kitchen ect.
 

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Some of those are pretty over the top. No one cares how you butter your bread. And really, if someone asks for salt, there's no reason to pass the pepper (although you could offer it.) Just two examples.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Polliwog</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15411421"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Some of those are pretty over the top. No one cares how you butter your bread. And really, if someone asks for salt, there's no reason to pass the pepper (although you could offer it.) Just two examples.</div>
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They're not "over the top" and are most certainly necessary in some of the places/situations we dine. Obviously, as I said, we're not that strict at home unless it's a formal dinner party I'm hosting (not as often as it used to be), however, we do eat out and are guests at formal dinners. Those are all standard table manners, which unfortunately, are not being taught to the more recent generations. I'd rather teach dd all of the formal manners and for her to feel comfortable dining with anyone from friends to presidents than for her to feel lost as to what to do. In fact, I think it's just another tool to help her deal with life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hey! OP here.<br><br>
Just wanted to drop a line to remind everyone that I did specifically ask about formal table manners. So thanks again, velochic, for your specific list. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"> While I would certainly not require everything on the list at home with a 4yo, I think it's good stuff to know. Velochic & madskye, where did y'all learn about formal table manners? Is there a book/website or somesuch you could recommend? I'm working for a CPA now, and I feel a bit uncomfortable at some of the fancier lunches and dinner events. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br>
Thanks again!<br>
-rockport-
 

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table manners -<br><br>
sit on your bottom, stay seated (unless you need to go potty)<br>
chewing with your mouth closed<br><br>
unfortunately we don't really talk at the table, this causes my 4 yr old to jabber on until her food is cold, then she won't eat it. Even if it's reheated. They're allowed to chat during snack times, but not meal times, unless I'm sitting with them etc it's a complicated one.<br><br>
Setting/Cleaning -<br><br>
I don't really set the table, I make up the plates and put them on the table but I am considering having my son start setting forks or spoons and cups for each meal.<br><br>
My 8 yr old cleans up his place after meals and snacks. Rinses cups, plates and bowls, putting them in the sink. And any trash goes to the trash. I expect my 4 yr old to put trash in the can, and her cup in the fridge if she has milk left over. She can't yet reach the sink enough that I can trust a glass won't break on accident.<br><br>
When they are finished with their meal, they ask to be excused.
 

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Some of them are over the top I agree, I don't ask DD much:<br><br>
1.Chew with your mouth close<br>
2.Elbows off table<br>
3.You can't use your hands instead of your utensils, it's not nice<br>
4.No books on the table(this is a constant battle)<br>
5.It's okay to talk but dont do it with your mouth full<br>
6.Don't steal food from my or daddy's plate you have your own<br>
7.When finished put your dishes in the sink<br>
8.If you are having dessert, eat it on the table not in your room<br>
9.Put your pants on(she likes to be in her underwear during the summer)<br><br>
DD doesnt set the table, we don't really have the best table etiquette not even DH and he needs those often I have to remind him daily to keep his elbows off the table.
 

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Our general table rules are simply:<br><br>
Sit on your hiney and use nice manners.<br><br>
Specific rules will vary depending on the situation. Our expectations for take out at home, are different than for dinner in a nice restaurant, for instance. Overall, I think DS does well with this approach.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>titania8</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15404620"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Wow, my kids are feral compared to some, lol! We recently had to post our rules for mealtimes where we can refer to them.<br><br>
No banging or earthquakes (shaking the table)<br>
speak politely and with inside voices<br>
sit in your chair<br>
must be dressed (this means no pajamas, I require them to get dressed before breakfast)</div>
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Mine too! My "must be dressed" includes pajamas, in fact anything, even costumes and hats...<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> I guess I would draw the line at t-shit and underwear, though it's never come to that yet. We don't have too many rules, as my 3yo and 5yo are big into the poop, fart, burp and laugh stage, and I figure the less of a fuss I make over it, the faster this stage will get boring and blow over. I often make jokes at the table, and I let my kids bite their cheese slices into intricate snowflake shapes and have even commented on them. Occassionally when I prepare lunch I make characters out of the food, so the presentation is fun.<br><br>
They basically don't get up and down, it was never really a "rule", just what happened. They say "thank you mom/dad for the meal" when they do leave the table. And they put their dishes in the dishwasher. That is about it. I guess my only real rule is no blowing bubbles through your straw. It bugs me. We joke, we talk a lot, we all really love eating together as a family.<br><br>
What I find interesting is that when we have company, DS and DD just naturally tone it down. They listen more, they always add please and thank you to requests, and they don't do fart jokes. I haven't told them they can't; they just know there are different "rules", the same as there are different rules at our house than other people's house....<br><br>
ETA:
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>rockportmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15413045"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Hey! OP here.<br><br>
Just wanted to drop a line to remind everyone that I did specifically ask about formal table manners.</div>
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I didn't see this the first time. Just disregard my post then.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>rockportmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15413045"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Hey! OP here.<br><br>
Just wanted to drop a line to remind everyone that I did specifically ask about formal table manners. So thanks again, velochic, for your specific list. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"> While I would certainly not require everything on the list at home with a 4yo, I think it's good stuff to know. Velochic & madskye, <b>where did y'all learn about formal table manners</b>? Is there a book/website or somesuch you could recommend? I'm working for a CPA now, and I feel a bit uncomfortable at some of the fancier lunches and dinner events. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br>
Thanks again!<br>
-rockport-</div>
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I moved to Moscow and was working at the US Embassy back in the early 90's. The state department uses something called "Diplomatic Protocol" when interacting, and that includes how to conduct oneself at a meal. I was in dining situations with diplomats and just had to learn all of the nuances. I was given an old book called something like "A handbook of conduct for Americans" or some such (I could look it up for you... I rarely throw away a book, but I think this was a loan... I haven't seen it for years). Then I had a small Emily Post paperback that was about formal dinners specifically (about 100 pages of FAQs), and then a book called "The Amy Vanderbilt Book of Etiquette" (another old one). I also read much of the huge tome of a book by Emily Post, another oldie but goodie. The latter two, I still have and refer back to occasionally. So, I learned through reading and using the manners I was taught. My mentor at the embassy was the wife of a naval attache officer (my dad was Navy) and I still have the notes I took from her.<br><br>
The list I gave (which I realized had a mistake and I corrected) isn't even *close* to how formal "formal" can really be. Those are just the basics. Seriously. "Formal" is much, much more formal than anything I listed. Those are things we do/teach for dining in any day-to-day situation and are probably sufficient for a business luncheon.<br><br>
I can't understand why it would be a BAD thing to teach children how to conduct themselves at a table. I'm trying to think of one negative to having proper table manners and I can't come up with any. Why not teach and practice at home? Dd loves it when I get out all of our formal china and silver and we have a very proper meal with full setting. I actually really enjoy formal meals and so does dd. We went to a formal brunch for mother's day last weekend and an older woman came up to dd to compliment her on her table manners. It made dd feel very mature and boosted her confidence. To each their own, but Rockportmama, I'm glad my post was helpful to you.
 
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