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Let your child know which manners are alright and which aren’t, at the dining table.

By Pallavi Kanungo,

Table manner is an accepted code of conduct or behaviour while having meals at the dining table. Nowadays, basic table manners are often taught during school lunch hours. However, parents need to follow-up on these trainings at home every now and then.  

Although teaching your child good manners might seem like a difficult proposition, it is not that tough in reality.This is because children are natural learners, thanks to their inherent curiosity. So, if you subtly introduce table manners during a cosy family dinner, your child might actually be receptive of it. Focus on teaching a specific manner, one at a time, so that that your child is not overwhelmed.  

Before you begin, it is important to remember that you’re your children’s best role model, so anything you do or say is likely to be repeated by them. But first, you need to help them understand what manners are and why they are important. Explain to them that manners are social etiquettes but more than that, they are a way to show morality, kindness and consideration towards others who are eating alongside them, be it at home, a restaurant or at someone else’s place. Here are the manners you need to inculcate. 

Make your child understand that good manners begin even before reaching the table. The foremost thing is to wash hands properly with soap before every meal. Emphasise on the importance of disinfecting the hands. To reinforce this habit, make sure your kids see you washing your own hands before eating. In fact, join them at the wash basin before you all sit down to eat.  

While having a meal, parents get a lot of teachable moments.Take this opportunity to teach your child to ask for food politely at the table.  Make sure you follow this rule yourself as well.  

Using cutlery, plates and napkins 
This needs to be taught with patience because the ability to use spoons and fork cannot be achieved overnight. Also, make sure that you explain, which food is easier to eat with a spoon, and which one by hand and how she should follow it anywhere he goes.  

You may also have to teach your child how to use a napkin to wipe his hands and face. Additionally, make sure that he carries his own plates and glasses from the table to the sink at home. If you have a tween or ateenager, you may even teach him to volunteer to clean dishes once in a while.  

Strict no-nos 
From the very first day, let your child know which manners are alright and which aren’t. Explain the reasons behind each. Correct the behaviour if your child has exhibited it before, but with a lot of sensitivity. Remind your child that burping is a normal reaction to eating, but one must close the mouth before burping and say “excuse me’ afterwards. Similarly, chewing with an open mouth should be discouraged. If your child talks with food in his mouth, remind him to chew and swallow first and then talk. Finally, teach him the manner of waiting for his turn while speaking at the dinner table considering it is family time and a great opportunity to share experiences with others.  

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