10 Table Manners I Expect From All Children

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If there's anything I hate more than entertaining children for playdates, it's feeding them. I mean, do the neighborhood children have an alert set up for the moment I come home from the grocery store with unopened snacks? Because it sure seems that way.

But a box of crackers is nothing compared to feeding other people's children a sit-down dinner. I have to feed my own kids, and I expect decent manners from them, but if I'm feeding someone else's kid, I demand good manners, dammit. Don't follow the below, sweetheart, and you aren't coming back ...

1. Wash your hands. I do not know what you have rubbed, scratched, poked, fondled, wiped, or otherwise touched with your grubby little fingers. So you little monsters sure as hell better soap them up before grazing even one molecule of the kitchen with them.

2. Hands only on the table. I watched you scrub your hands, which means they are the only parts of your body allowed to touch the table. No feet. No forearms. No elbows. No pounding fists. No foreheads, unless you spilled your milk again and it’s me banging my head against the table. (Anyway, my hair is clean. Most days.) 

3. Speak the required phrases. These are: Please and No Thank You. There will be no demands made of anyone unless it is preceded by the word please, as in “Please pass the salt; this chicken tastes like feet,” or “Please do not make me eat one more bite of this detestable casserole.” I am much less likely to pelt my children with steamed broccoli florets if they say, “No thank you, I have had my fill of that repulsive meat” than if they just make gagging noises.

4. Chew with your mouth closed. Cooking sucks enough already. I’ve already spent way too much time looking at these ingredients. An extra 15 seconds of staring at them as you pre-digest them in your mouth? No thanks.

5. Talk between bites. I’m glad you want to tell me about your day, honey, but let’s wait until you have swallowed the noodles, 'kay? I already had to cook your meal. I don’t want to wipe your meal off my face. As the great Benjamin Franklin—or someone—once said, “Say it, don’t spray it.”

6. Use utensils. I’m not a stickler on this one all the time, but at some point kids ought to know that, one, forks and spoons exist and, two, are not shovels. Knives are not props for sword-fighting. Mashed potatoes are not to be eaten facedown like a dog. Am I asking too much?

7. Wait to eat. Mealtimes are crazy. Sometimes I’ve spent 30 minutes making a dinner that takes about 3 minutes to eat. By the time I get everything to the table and actually sit down, the rest of the family can have gobbled up their meal and disappeared. So you know what? Let’s wait until everyone’s ready before we eat. Otherwise, Mommy might miss the first three of your 37 fart jokes.

8. Stay seated. If you have to sit for a whole math class at school, you can sit for longer than the five minutes it takes you to hide your peas under your rice and complain about the salad. So no leaving until you’ve asked to be excused. I’ll excuse you as soon as I’m good and ready, by which I mean when my ears have started bleeding from your whining.

9. No gross noises. Yes, I love how you’re able to make bathroom sounds by zerberting your arm. Yes, the first six times you did it were pretty hilarious. But from now on, no more farting burping smacking grunting slurping gagging at the table. Unless I’m doing it.

10. Say “thank you.” Even if you didn’t like the food and even if Mommy’s dictatorial rules kept you from tearing apart your chicken like a Rottweiler. A sincere “thank you” to the chef goes a long, long way toward making me not want to poke you with my fork.


Image via Scary Mommy



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cherk-nj cherk-nj

Could not agree more strongly..REALLY!!! My son's friends (who go to private Christian school BTW) think nothing of walking into my house with "Do you have any powdered donuts" "I only drink Sprite" The topper, When I offered Mac and Cheese for lunch "Let me see the box first so I know if it's a brand I like" It wasn't..The biggest thing I have run into is a playdate that extends thru dinner time, and the mother never calls to ask about dinner. When I call them, At Dinner Time) and say "Do you want me to give so and so dinner? I hear, You can if you want to but you don't have to.. As opposed to what?? Making them sit on the couch while we all eat.? I have only seen one child in my neighborhood with any manners whatsoever. My son knows I would kill him if he acted like this, perhaps literally, LOL.

Amanda Marie


antfa... antfarmer101

Amanda Marie... if you don't teach your children to use their manners at home, they will not use them in public either. Model what you want. I want polite children who don't run everyone else off at the table with their grossness. We follow MOST of these rules MOST of the time. But my kids are 4 and 1. We have some time...

Erin McIlhenny

Chill out on what? These are not unreasonable requests, they are manners. I find it incredibly sad that I get complimented on my two year olds manners and public behavior, when all she's doing is being polite. It used to be that not behaving like this was bad form, now its the norm. smh

bless... blessed5312

Chill on what, these are the most basic manners anyone child or adult should be using when eating.  My 3 year old is capable of doing all of these no problem.  They are all requirements in out house.  Even my super picky oldest son knows to decline polietly if it's something he doesn't like or is unsafe to eat (severe nut/peanut allergies). 

Traci... Traci_Momof2

LOL!  Love the humor interjected within this article.  But yes, overall I agree with these.  Though I have to admit I'm more lax with #1 in our house (I was never really taught it so it just never became habit).  I also don't fully understand part of #2.  Feet off the table, absolutely.  But forearms and elbows?  That's always puzzled me.  Where am I supposed to rest my forearms while eating if not on the table?  I mean, if my hand with the fork in it is hovering over my plate, then my forearm is naturally going to be on the table and perhaps a bit of my elbow as well.

adamat34 adamat34

Manners are imperative. Ive always taught.my boys.to behave. Sadly poor manners.are the norm and not an important life lesson.

Corelda Griffo

i agree but give the young ones a break i hope she is talking about ages 5+ because really toddlers do not WAIT, they don't understand why they are starving with a plate of food in front of them that they cant touch till you sit down? uhm i think not. yes manners are wonderful but lets chill out a bit

gridi... gridironsmom

I agree with all of them. #2 I'm lax on. Please nothing other than arms though.

Sue Schmitt

My children have always displayed manners when they are out (yes we have received numerous comments and praises on their behavior and manners.) But other than chewing with your mouth closed, nothing has been called out or chastised or even ridiculed in this house. funny how they are able to carry it out without being called out on behavior. Kids are kids, not every person is raised the same and if you want to chastise a friend of your child's well stop and think about the example you are setting. It may not be your standards but you negate your child's choice of friends

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