This post originally appeared at my parenting blog The Gift of Good Manners. I will be cross posting some of my favorite content from that blog here at the Etiquette Daily periodically. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.
The art of dining includes several things: the table setting which brings order and beauty, the menu which delights the taste buds, and the conversation that brightens the day! The following tips will help your children learn the art of table conversation.
- Talk to people on both sides of you and across the table.
- Volume: Not too loud; not too soft.
- Don’t talk with your mouth full! (If it’s a problem, try putting a mirror in front of your child during a meal, so she can see how it looks.)
- The art of small talk: Suggest topics like the weather, sports, local events, school and then practice. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead use who, what, where, when, and how. Here are some practice questions. Help your kids make up their own:
- “What did you think of the ball game last night?”
- “What was the sledding like after that snow storm?”
- “I heard you won the state spelling bee last week! That is so cool…What comes next?”
- “Mom says you went to Spain last summer. Can you tell me about it?”
- Avoid talking about personal family issues.
Practice at each meal this week. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something about your children you didn’t know. And, better yet, maybe they’ll learn something about you!
Practice setting a simple table setting: fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right (knife next to the plate), glass on the right above the knife and spoon. (The kids can help with the table decorations – make holiday place cards, ask the kids to make up a seating plan, create a special holiday centerpiece – not so high you can’t see over it!)
Then review the basics and practice, practice, practice:
- Wash up.
- Napkin in lap.
- Wait until all are served or the hostess begins to eat.
- Please and thank you.
- Hold utensils properly.
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Offer to help clear.
- Thank you to the cook!