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Teaching Table Manners

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 my kids 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.Teaching Table Manners using the Manners Menu -

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.Table Manners Menu

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.

Give it a shot! Download and print your own Manner’s Menu using the instructions below. You can even customize it if you’re working on different manners than we are.

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How are your family’s 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.


Saturday 11th of November 2017

I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! :) Thank you!


Thursday 16th of November 2017

Thanks Mary, that makes my day!

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Monday 8th of December 2014

Love your ideas! My kids don't often have the best table manners either. I always hate hear "I don't like that" ect. ect. lol.

Lisa - A Merry Mom

Tuesday 11th of November 2014

Love it! Pinning. I recently wrote a post on teaching kids table manners, too. I'm going to update it with a link to your post - your manners menu is a great idea!


Tuesday 11th of November 2014

Thanks Lisa! I'll link to yours too, we moms need all the help we can get!

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Thursday 6th of November 2014

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Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook