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Travel Tips: Good Table Manners Makes for Enjoyable Family Meals Out

 Submitted by Sarah Morris on behalf of Primrose Schools- preschools emphasizing a balanced curriculum.

Image: federico stevanin
Well-mannered children make travel- and especially meals out a restaurants- much more possible and enjoyable. Teaching about table manners from a young age is important in allowing you to dine out as a family without disrupting other adult diners around you.

An ideal time to begin teaching manners is at the dinner table, when the whole family sits down to a meal. Consider the tips below when helping your children with their mealtime etiquette:

1. It is never too early to begin teaching manners. In fact, it is often better to start as early as possible instead of asking a school age child to learn numerous "rules" all at once. Manners should be taught slowly and in stages, so that they become second nature to the child. Very young children and even infants take their biggest cues for behavior from their parents, so a show of good manners will teach them how to act. Toddlers can be taught to say "please" and "thank you," and that they should sit still in their seat at mealtimes. Children of that age are also discovering new things every day, and love performing new activities and learning new skills. Take advantage of this to teach them how to correctly use utensils and set the table. You may even teach them the basics of cutting, using plastic knives and foods that are easy to cut.

2. Let your children know how they are doing, and be specific. Rewarding good behavior with praise will reinforce that behavior, but specific feedback, such as, "Thank you for setting the table. Now everyone has a place to sit," will go a lot further toward teaching your children than just general praise.

3. Always keep conversation at the table polite, and encourage your children to do the same. Even toddlers can learn polite conversation and how to wait their turn to talk, if their parents are there to guide them in the right direction. If everyone in the family engages in polite conversation, it will have the added benefit of increasing the bond among family members, as everyone takes the time to really listen and learn about what is going on in each other's lives.

4. Practice what you preach. Children will imitate their parents, so it is not enough to just teach them manners if you are not engaging in that same behavior yourself. Everything from polite conversation to the proper use of utensils to healthy eating habits can be learned by children watching their parents.

5. Children learn better in an orderly and consistent environment, so set up a routine for dinner every night. Remind your children out loud of polite behaviors, such as waiting until everyone is served before eating. Repetition will make it easier for your children to remember their manners. Be patient, as children may often need reminders and prompting, but a slow and steady commitment to teaching manners will help them the remainder of their lives.

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