Sitting together and sharing a meal is one of the most significant ways for a family to bond. Yet, the obligations and stresses of everyday life can get in the way of you enjoying a leisurely meal with your loved ones. To ensure that you cherish mealtimes together, whether you’re dining at home, visiting someone or heading out for a fun family dinner, inculcate the right manners in your children. This will also groom them for ace power lunches and formal workplace dinners in the future.
To help you, we look at the seven golden rules all young children must follow. Start with one for every day of the week, and end up making your supper truly super!
1. 'Please’ and ‘Thank You’
These are truly magical words. They have a huge role to play when it comes to dining as well. Teach your children to use them liberally when asking to be served or when someone offers them a dish. It will always be appreciated.
2. Be patient and wait
When hunger pangs cloud their judgement, young children tend to lose the sense of consideration that goes with eating together. Therefore, it is important to teach your children to be patient, wait till everyone has been served, pass dishes around and then start eating. Since dining is not a solo activity, children must be mindful of their dining companions.
3. Don’t waste, be thankful
Being conscious of wastage is an important life lesson, and this applies to dining etiquette as well. It is imperative to teach your children to be thankful for the food they eat, and therefore finish what they have on their plate. It’s better to serve them multiple times than pile on huge portions of food that they just cannot eat.
4. Don’t be in a hurry
‘Sit, eat and leave’ is one of the most common mistakes that children make when eating with their families. They should know that even if their schedules are busy, it is not okay for them to finish their meals in a rush. They should not get up before everyone is done with their meal.
5. Switch off those gadgets
Yes, we do live in a constantly connected world, and technology is changing the way we live. But does it have to change our mealtimes too? Ask your children to put away their phones, tablets and laptops, (make sure you do too!) and switch off the TV. It is important for them to engage with you rather than with their gadgets. Make them understand that constant distraction defeats the very purpose of dining together.
6. Chew and then chat
Conversations are what make family meals great, but not when it means talking with the mouth full. It’s unappealing, hard to understand, and considered impolite. ‘Chew and then chat’ is the standard rule that your children need to follow.
7. Appreciate and pay compliments
Everyone loves a compliment; so, teach your children to appreciate the food served. This is always reflective of good manners. Tell your children that if, however, what is served is not to their taste, they should take less instead of criticising or complaining.
If these manners become second nature to your children, it will reflect on all aspects of their personality when they grow up. From work to personal interactions, good manners will make them the perfect companions for a pleasant meal. So, get your children to practice these seven golden rules at every opportunity that comes up. After all, manners are served!
Based on inputs from Suneeta Kanga, international etiquette, fine dining and grooming expert