Dining Out Manners: The Three Things Your Kids Learn At Home That Matter

Lions, tigers, and bears! Oh my! Have you ever been out to eat at a new restaurant and your children seem to be a little out of control?


For example blowing bubbles in their chocolate milk, making inappropriate noises at the table, etc? Then as you are looking over the menu for items your kids will eat, you realize that the one food group your child eats is not on the menu. So, you wait patiently before the ticking time bomb in your child explodes. T-minus 10 seconds, until you are either hushed by the other families in the restaurant or are forced to leave the restaurant to calm your child. If only we could be like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and clap our heels three times to quickly be at home.

There truly is no place like home.

The skills you teach your children at home translate into the real world. Consider these three social lessons to set your kids up for success when you dine out as a family.

1.  Practice meal-time manners at home. You may be busy and overwhelmed much of the time, but the effort you spend in teaching your child dinner manners leads to a lifetime of happy meals.  Show your children how to sit politely in their dinner space. Teach them how to place their napkin in their laps, keep their elbows off the table and eat with their mouths closed. Have you ever eaten with your child at school, you can tell who is being taught meal-time manners at home and who is being allowed to run wild. 

2. Dinner manners are more than body placement. They are about social conversation as well.  Show your children how to enter into and end a social conversation. Teach them how to stay on topic and respond to people’s questions. Show your child how and when to listen to others as they speak. Children who are good conversationalists are well-liked by adults and that matters. When your daughter goes to girl scouts and knows how to say to the troop leader, “Hi Mrs. Davis, how are you today,” that goes a long way. In a world where there are 35 kids to a school classroom those kids who have learned listening and sharing skills at home will fare much better than other kids.

3. Teach order.  Simple huh? Show your children that there is an orderly way to leave and enter a home, get in and out of a car and be seated in a restaurant. If you are the family who swoops in like dogs to a meal, you will disturb the meal experience for other diners. So show your kids ahead of time how to enter a social space with grace and aplomb.