We love pretending we are princes and princesses at the table. We ask “How would a princess sit?” or “How would a prince ask to have the carrots passed?”. When they wander from the game we remind them by saying things like “ Would princess kick her sister at the table?” or “Would a prince start screaming at the table when he wanted more?”. We often fall into british or fancy accents and the kids really enjoy to have over-the-top manners. They love it when I call them “Your Majesty” or “Princess Camille” during our table conversations. The game only works as long as I am participating, but we have a lot of fun as a family during dinner when we play this game.
2. Have A Candle Light Dinner (Cindi)
We always have a special candle light dinner on special occasions (birthdays, Valentine's Day, some other holidays) and sometimes when one of our children has accomplished something great. During these fancy dinners we cook something special, turn the lights low, set the table with our best dishes, and explain to the kids how one should eat in a fancy restaurant. We show them by example and through words how to use your best manners during a very special dinner. Our kids love our candlelight dinners!
3. Use Candles as Motivation (Katelyn)
We sometimes have candlelight dinners. During dinner we talk about and practice good table manners. At the end of the dinner the reward for having good manners is that they get to blow out the candles. For some reason blowing out candles seems to be an amazing reward for kids!
4. Have “Quiet Dinners” (Ali Mae)
We tell the kids we are having “Quiet Dinner” where everyone has to whisper the entire meal. The kids like reminding each other and the parents that they need to whisper. It cuts down on the general rowdiness during mealtime and seems to help them remember their other manners too.
5. Earn a Restaurant Dinner (Ali Mae)
My kids love eating at restaurants. Sometimes we use a dinner out as a reward for good manners. We might make a chart to keep track of how many meals they do well and then when we reach our goal we get to go out. Before we go into the restaurant we review good manners rules and remind them that we can only come back if they behave.
6. Post-It Note Strike System (Kirsti)
We came up with a simple and very visual way to track their manners and let them know how they were doing. We would put up a large post-it note for each child with their name on it. Then put 3 post-it note tabs on each child’s note. During the meal, if they misbehaved or had poor manners we would remind them of the proper behavior and then remove one of the tabs. If they had all three tabs left at the end of dinner, then they got dessert. We love this strategy because its very visual and very clear. The kids understand when they have done something inappropriate and have a visual reminder to behave.
We hope you have fun trying these ideas out as you teach and re-teach your children table manners. Share some of your best table manner techniques in the comments below!