Pull Up a Chair…Fifteen Basic Table Manners for Children

I wasn’t terribly surprised by the incredible response that I got to a recent post, How Rude…Ten Basic Courtesies for Children.  It seems that we’re all just a little fed up with living in a society that puts little importance on common courtesies.  

I truly believe that manners must be instilled when children are young and if they aren’t practiced at home, they’re less likely to be used when away from home.  I cringe at the thought of my children being anything less than courteous and pleasant to others. 

How Rude…Ten Basic Courtesies for Children was by definition, quite basic.  I could have gone on for pages, my list is that long.  But, I thought I’d break my rants up into bite-sized pieces so that I don’t look like such a rigid crazy person. 

Becca, from bare feet on the dashboard asked that I offer up a list of basic table manners next.  Thanks for the suggestion, Becca.  Here you go: 

Basic Table Manners

(This is a rather long list for little guys; try choosing a few age appropriate manners from the list and once you’ve mastered them, add accordingly.) 

  1. Use your utensils.
  2. Sit up nice and tall. Don’t hunch and keep your elbows off the table. (Sitting up helps with digestion.)
  3. Don’t put too much food in your mouth at one time.
  4. Chew with your mouth closed.
  5. Never talk with your mouth full.
  6. Never burp at the table.  Enough said.
  7. Eat slowly, chewing your food fully. Wait a few seconds between bites.
  8. Don’t begin eating until everyone has been served.
  9. Don’t pick your teeth at the table.  Ever. 
  10. Don’t lick your fingers clean, always use your napkin.
  11. Keep your napkin on your lap.  (Your napkin should be used only to wipe your face and hands—never to wipe or blow your nose.)
  12. Do not stretch across another person to reach for something.  Politely ask for it to be passed to you.
  13. Always say thank you for your dinner. No matter how simple the meal, remember that it was made for you with love.
  14. If you are served something that you don’t like, keep that opinion to yourself.  Do not hurt the host’s feelings.
  15. Ask at least one other person a question about their day and really listen to their answer.

Next week, I’ll be offering up a list of restaurant manners, for your sake and mine!


  1. I should print this out and pass it around at large group meals.

    Or would that be rude?

  2. becca barefeetonthedashboard.com

    thanks nichole! that is a great list. those manners are so important and worth the trouble to teach.

  3. Andie multiplemama.com

    Those are great ideals. But it is important to remember that these things take time. Lots of time. And all children are different. If all I had was my daughter, we'd be flying through this table time academy with out a care in the world. However, my boys are a different story. As hard as we work on trying to instill such values in them, it is not always realistic to think kids are going to be adults. Because they are not. Patience is the key to my survival.
    ps Beautiful blog!

  4. I love all your manners! We were taught most of these as kids too. The biggest one was that we ALWAYS had to thank my mom for dinner. She worked part-time, went to college part-time (almost full-time) and STILL kept immaculate house and made a homecooked dinner for all five of us five nights a week. You cleared your own plate and you said thank you. Period.

  5. Dinner time is such chaos that manners get lost in the madness. This is an excellent reminder. Thanks Nichole.

  6. geekgirlwife

    I know more adults needing this this list than children.

  7. Lyndsey

    Printing it out now…for my fridge! Not just for children! LOL

  8. Natalie mommyofamonster.com/

    I know some adults that would benefit from reading this ;)

    We are working on all of these with Tater. It's harder than I thought it would be to raise a gentleman instead of a caveman!

  9. Dawn affurmation.com

    Just stopping to say Hi from the SITS Girls 31DBBB! What a great way list! Sometimes it just helps having things broken down.

  10. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Hmmm…maybe two wrongs do make a right? ;)

  11. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thanks for the great idea, Becca!

  12. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    It really does take time to teach manners.
    We still struggle with several on the list, but I try to pick a few to focus on and remind myself that they build upon one another.

    And yes, patience is a beautiful thing!

  13. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Yes, an immaculate house (giggle). What's that?
    These days, I'm grateful for sanitary. Who knew two kids would be so much tougher to keep up with!?

    One of the manners that Katie has mastered is thanking us for her dinner. It melts my heart when she says it.

    There's nothing better than knowing that all of the consistency pays off.

  14. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Dinner can be chaotic here too.
    Sometimes I'm so focused on getting through it that I don't pay attention to everything that's going on around me.

    This parenting thing is exhausting isn't it?

  15. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Me too. Sadly.

  16. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Too bad we couldn't hand out this list whenever we wanted!

  17. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    It really is hard work to instill manners.
    So many of us have so much on our plates that it's hard enough to get through the day with sanity intact.

    The day when the manners all just click into place will be a happy one!

  18. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thanks so much for coming by! Great to meet you.

  19. This is the perfect list. I think most adults could use a reminder of these items as well.

  20. Thanks for the article. There are some great tips in there.

    Manners is a topic that many parents forget to instill in their children. I find it very rude when children cannot show basic manners and you are right about teaching it early.

    I came across another website with some good information about this. The site is http://www.modern-manners-and-etiquette.com/teach

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