13 Things to Teach a 9-Year-Old Dinner Guest From Hell

kids tableCan we talk about kids' table manners for a minute? I feel like half of us are doing our job as parents, and half of us are all, "Table, what table?" I think we've all hosted the dinner guest from hell -- and we've wondered if he's being raised by orangutans. There's a lot of rude kids out there.

Hey, I'm not parent-shaming. Families nowadays are so stressed and busy, it's hard to get the family to sit down together around the table for a meal on the regular. But it's one of the most important ways we teach our kids to be civilized.

It's hard work, too. I swear, it's taken me YEARS to get my son to stop wiping his face on his sleeve and use his napkin. This stuff does not come naturally for most kids -- but for the future of humanity, it needs to happen. Here are 13 things every young dinner guest needs to learn.


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At the very least, kids should learn the following:

  1. Chew with your mouth closed.
  2. Don't talk with food in your mouth.
  3. Wipe your face and hands on your napkin, not your sleeve or your neighbor's sleeve.
  4. Take at least one bite of everything you're given before you decide you don't like it.
  5. Say "no thank you" calmly if you don't want to eat something you've tried and did not like.
  6. Ask people to please pass you the butter, salt, etc. Don't just reach across the table.
  7. No yelling or fighting at the table. For the love of all that is holy, do not make other people cry.
  8. Remain seated through the duration of the meal unless you REALLY have to pee.
  9. Keep your hands to yourself.
  10. Keep your feet below the table and DO NOT under any circumstances touch your feet during the meal.
  11. Never, ever blow your nose at the table. If you sneeze or cough, turn to the side and do it in the crook of your elbow.
  12. Don't talk about gross stuff at the table. You know what we mean.
  13. Don't belch loudly or make the kinds of body noises parents don't like to hear. You know what we mean.

More from The Stir: 6 Rude Things Moms Let Their Kids Do (Tsk Tsk)

Bonus advanced table skills:

  • Don't make that face like the food we've served you is literally killing you with its death rays.
  • Keep your napkin in your lap.
  • Keep your elbows off the table.
  • If you finish eating before everyone else is finished, just sit quietly or ask to be excused.
  • Don't mash up your food or otherwise treat it as an art project.
  • Try to make interesting mealtime conversation.
  • Thank your host for the meal at the end.

MAYBE by the time my son graduates from high school, he will have a handle on these. I'm trying my hardest.

What else do you think goes on these lists?


Image via Michael Newton/Flickr

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