The ‘Teaching Children Table Manners’ Game

by Mariel on April 28, 2011

Table manners?? What are those?

The man-of-the-house is all for America adopting the burping is a “compliment to the chef” cultural tradition. The kids would like to add wrestling, fork stabbing, and feet-in-the-face to that.

Now, there’s something to be said for having fun and goofing around as a family, I’m all about a good laugh. But, everyone should know when and where to implement their manners. For example, when I’m at The Olive Garden, it’s not the right time for little Shane to start burping his ABC’s for everyone to hear (although, he IS crazy-good at it!) Christmas dinner, Easter dinner, Sunday dinner, Mom’s-in-a-bad-mood dinner…not the right time.

So, in an effort to refine my children (and maybe yours), I’ve got a fun and easy little game that encourages table manners.

First, you will need to have a little lesson on proper table manners. Talk about all of the ones that are important to you. Here’s a few of my favorites…

1. Chew with your mouth closed

2. Put the napkin on your lap

3. Say “please” and “thank-you”

4. No reaching

5. No bodily noises (including slurping)

6. Don’t start eating until the cook (mom) is seated, and if she’s not…help her!

7. Don’t leave the table until everyone is done eating

8. No elbows on the table

9. Thank the cook for dinner

10. Stay to help clean up the dishes and mess

11. No rude comments about the food

12. Sit on your bum / Don’t tip your chair

After all the kids understand the manners, it’s time to implement them and see how well they remember.

Next to everyone’s dinner plate, place a little stack of candies (maybe Starbursts, mini-candy bars, whatever you like).  Nobody can touch their candies, yet. They are going to be their dessert, IF they earn it. Throughout dinner, they need to watch each other. If anyone can catch someone breaking a table manner’s rule, they can have one of the offender’s candies to add to their stack. Any arguing will lead to two candies being taken. Everyone really has to be on guard to catch offenders, but to also govern themselves. When dinner is over and clean-up is complete, everyone can gobble the treats they earned from having good manners. Play the game several times and watch good manners really take hold!

* To take it up a notch, make it a fancy dinner, complete with candlelight, soft music, and cloth napkins. Need some dinner ideas?  How about Stuffed Shells, Saturday Chicken, or Enchiladas Verde de Pollo.

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