I have a confession to make. Sometimes I’m embarrassed by my own children. Not in general. Usually they are lovely wonderful little people who amaze me with their sweet spirits and thoughtful minds. But when we sit down to dinner, it’s a whole different story. When they are hungry they turn into uncultured swine. I know this is my fault. I mean, kids aren’t born with table manners – they have to be taught. And I have not done a great job of teaching mine. Yet.
Table manner teaching at our house usually goes something like this:
Child: Mumbling through mouthful of food.
Me: Don’t talk with your mouth full.
Child: I don’t like chicken. What else can I have?
Me: Nothing. You’ll eat the chicken and you’ll like it and someday you’ll realize what a wonderful mother you had to feed you healthy food.
Other child: Sneaks last piece of garlic bread when no one is looking.
Child: Hey! You stole the last piece of bread. Mom, can you make more?
Me: No bread for either of you! Go do your homework!
Me: Thinking to myself, Why am I the only one in this family who knows how to carry a plate to the sink?!
Not satisfied with our current state of offending/nagging, I decided to come up with a more fun way of teaching table manners. My new system is called the “Manners Menu.” I printed these menus of table manners and mounted them on black cardstock like menus at a fancy restaurant. Each child gets one by their plate, and they can select one or two good habits to work on throughout the meal.
Here are the manners we are working on:
- The Chef is Special: Have a good attitude about what is on the menu. No complaining. Someone worked hard to make you this meal.
- Little Bites: Shoveling belongs in the backyard, not the dinner table. One small bite at a time, chew slooooowly, swallow, repeat.
- Finger-licking, Not so Good: Use your napkin please, not your shirt, tongue, or pants! (Using your fork properly makes this one a lot easier.)
- Sweet Words: Remember your “please” and “thank you” please!
- Save the Last for Best: Best friends, family, and sisters, that is. Remember to offer the last bite on a serving platter to others before taking it for yourself.
- Finale: Ask to be excused and thank the chef or hostess for dinner. Carry your dishes to the sink.
If you’d like to print your own Manners Menu, you can download the file here: Manners Menu
You can even customize it if you’re working on different manners.
Tell me I’m not alone in trying to train my little heathens! What kind of manners are you working on? I’m sure once we conquer these I’ll discover others that aren’t even on my radar yet.