While messy eaters can be cute and funny as infants or toddlers, all children eventually have to learn about basic table manners. Courteous conduct is an important social skill they’ll need in many situations as they grow up. Practice these five key politeness tips at home or at a family restaurant to show your little one the ropes. 

5 Essential Mealtime Etiquette Skills for Kids

1. Washing Hands

Emphasize the need to come to the table with clean hands and face. Washing up before meals is a good hygiene habit whether you’re dining at home or in a family restaurant, as it ensures that their hands are free from any disease-causing germs.

2. Using Napkins & Utensils

family restaurantTeach your kids how to use the spoon, fork, and knife so they won’t have to dig in with their fingers. Don’t worry about the specifics on which spoon or fork to use—they only need to learn the basics. Show them how to unfold and place the napkins on their lap before taking their first bite. 

3. Chewing Politely 

Remind your children to never chew with their mouths open, as it’s unsightly to others. They should also avoid speaking when their mouths are full. Gentle reminders should be enough for older children, but younger ones may need you to demonstrate. Praise your child or offer them a small reward, like a sticker, every time they succeed. 

4. Eating Slowly

Kids sometimes wolf down food so they can have more time for play. Encourage them to take small bites. This isn’t only about family restaurant etiquette; it also minimizes the risk of choking or food aspiration. It will also teach them to savor their food, an important part of healthy eating

5. Remembering Others

Teach your kids to always say thank you and please when making requests. Remind them that they must not reach for items across the table; instead, they should ask the person closest to it to pass it. If they’re offered an unfamiliar or unwanted dish, they can turn it down kindly instead of expressing their disgust. When they need to leave the table, they should ask first to be excused.


It’s never too early to teach your kids good table manners. Practice what they learned by taking them to Wayne’s Family Restaurant, a homegrown favorite in Oconto County, WI. Since 1983, this family restaurant has consistently offered a delectable menu of homemade specials, soups, and award-winning pies that your kids will love. Call (920) 835-4262 to order carry-out, or make reservations online.