We have all had that experience. You’re out to dinner with your children and it’s just not going well. One hates their food, the other one is crying – you think, “Why didn’t we just stay at home? My kids have no manners.”
But fear not! There are things you can do at home to teach your children dining-out manners. Don’t let a few bad nights steer you clear of doing it again. It’s actually great to have family dinners out from time-to-time – it’s part of growing up, learning, trying new foods and experiencing different environments.
I recently read an article by Diana Boggia called, “Help teach children table manners,” and she has some great advice that I just had to share with you all.
First Diana says to turn the teaching of restaurant manners into a game. “Start your own family restaurant,” she says.
- Give each family member a restaurant job opportunity – table setter, assistant chef, wait staff, bus boy, etc. Make sure everyone tries out each role and that you emphasize the importance of “Thank you” and “Please.”
- Create a table manners menu with a few ground rules. Diana recommends things like chew with your mouth closed (draw lips), napkin in your lap (draw a napkin), hands and elbows off the table (draw a hand), no loud talking (draw an ear). Use images, not words and turn it into an activity – identifying which symbol goes with which rule.
- Use the other side of the manners menu to have rules for ordering such as one slice of bread, one drink before your food comes, etc. Again use simple drawings to make it more visual, and challenge your kids to master the game.
After your family has “passed” the manners menu at home, the rewards is dinner out to celebrate and show off everyone’s new “skills.”
Just remember – teaching your children in this educational fashion will hopefully engaged them, encouraging them to want to learn. Make it fun and make it your own by adding in your family’s unique rules and rewards.
Does anyone have their own a family “game” similar to this?