11 fun ways to teach children good table manners

Teaching table manners

If dinner time at your place resemble feeding time at the zoo, it’s time to take back control. Teaching kids to set the table and encouraging good table manners can be easier (and less scary!) than you think. To help bring a little order and serenity to the table we’ve put together a few handy tips to get you halfway there.

Here are 11 fun ideas to help teach table manners to your children.

All laid out

paper placemat to learn how to set the table

Learn to set the table placemat ($24.95): Young children may not remember where all the cutlery goes every night. Knowing where to put everything becomes easy peasy with this paper placemat – simply match the pictures!

Act it out

Act it out - easy step by step ways to teach your kids how to set the table

Montessori practical-life exercises encourage kids to learn how to do ‘living activities’ like setting the table. Grab plates, bowls and cutlery, and have a dry run before you start on the real thing.

You can leave bowls and plates in easy to reach areas so little ones can practice anytime they like. (via Bleubird)

Play a game

Play a game - easy step by step ways to get the kids setting the table.

Playing a game is the perfect way to trick kids into learning while having fun.

Once they’re pretty good at the job in hand you can test them by covering up the table setting with a tea towel and removing an item. The test is do they know which item has gone? (via Inspired Treehouse)

Snazzy napkins

Folding fancy napkins - easy steps to get the kids setting the table

Spruce up family dinner time by getting the kids to fold their own napkins. There’s no need for anything special – use paper ones from the supermarket even!

Give step-by-step instructions and once they have a few practice rounds under their belts they’ll want to do it every night. (via Busy at Home)

Set a place

Homemade place settings - easy ways to get the kids setting the table.

Have some crafting time with these beaded name serviette rings. Made using letter beads threaded on to a pipe cleaner, the tykes will have just as much fun making them as they will setting the table. (via Art Bar Blog)

Manners – what to expect

What to expect - easy ways to teach table manners to children.

When you’re facing an uphill battle with fussy eaters it’s easy to let table manners slide. When the munchkins decide to pick out every single vegetable you’ve so cleverly tried to hide, here’s a handy guide of things to remember. (via Thirty Handmade Days)

A story will help

A book on manners - easy ways to get the kids to have good table manners.

Excuse Me! A Little Book of Manners ($12.95): Getting young children to have decent table manners, or manners at all for that matter can be a struggle. Some kids may need to be reminded of the important points over and over again.

A little story will help reinforce that after you burp you say pardon and when you’re offered food you don’t yell “eeeeewwww!!!”.

And over and over again

Manners flash cards - easy ways to get the kids to have manners at the dinner table.
Another helpful way the reinforce the manners are expected at home are  Manners Flash Cards ($18.28).

Use at a time away from dinner and turn into a light-hearted session of play. It will help to drive the message home and hopefully rub off on them just in time for dinner.

The manners pig

The Manners pig - a game to teach table manners

Try this handy game idea from the House of Hendrix. Every time someone displays poor manners at the dinner table they get the pig (IKEA Pig $5.99).

The last person left with the pig has to help with the dinner clean up. Simple! And a great incentive to stop kiddies turning into little piggies at dinner time.

Put it up on the wall

Wall poster - ways to encourage good table manners.

Keep a visual reminder for the youngsters close by with a printable poster. Stick it up on a wall near where the family eats to make sure there’s no way the kids can claim they’ve “forgotten” what the rules are. (via imom)

Practice makes perfect

Add it to the rewards chart - easy ways to get the kids to set the table.

When it comes to manners and setting the table, it won’t all happen overnight. Practice makes perfect! Try encouraging the kiddies with this printable rewards chart ($21.94).

If the kiddos fill their chart they receive a reward for all their hard work. (Helpful tip: don’t let them choose the reward or you could end up in Disneyland!).