Teaching Kids Table Manners

Teaching kids table manners is easy and fun with these tips and free printable! Check it out.

How many pictures do you have of your baby making a mess with his/her food? I’m betting it’s a lot. Especially with 1st birthday smash cakes and portraits being so popular, it’s clear to see that parents often think it’s “cute” when babies make a mess of their food.

But then they get older, and it’s not “cute” anymore.

Next thing you know, you’re at the local Red Robin and your child is using a “finger-fork” maneuver to shovel food into his mouth. You’re looking around to see if anyone notices and inside you’re dying. They recently became manageable at restaurants and now you have a whole new battle…

Teaching Kids Table Manners

Teaching kids table manners with these free printables can be fun! Dining etiquette is an important life skill that children need to have and these tips can help. Check it out.

This post contains affiliate links which means when you make a purchase through them, you are supporting Wine and Lavender and I appreciate that so much! My opinions are my own.

If you’re a parent then you already know that some children aren’t the neatest or cleanest- especially when it comes to eating. It takes a little learning and it might get messy, but teaching kids table manners is possible!! It’s also something that, (I’m pretty sure) is included in our job descriptions, so… let’s get to it.

Utensil Basics

Holding a Fork

The first and foremost thing you need to teach your child is the PROPER way to hold a fork. This skill will help them to get more food into mouths and less on their laps. It’s always best to teach them at a time when they’re not hungry or you’re not in a rush because it does take time and a little patience.

Holding a Knife

If children are ever going to be self-sufficient, they need to learn to cut their own food. To train them, you can start with plastic knives or get a set of children’s knives if you are worried about them cutting themselves.

Cutting Food

This can sometimes be a little difficult because they just learned how to hold a fork properly and we’re teaching them a different way to hold a fork when cutting. Again, patience and practice are key and it helps to start off with utensil sets that are size appropriate and safe. Start off with something that is easy to cut and small. A room temperature string cheese works well because it poses a little challenge, and is small enough to cut through once.

Table Manner Basics

Your kids won’t know what to do unless you show them and practice it regularly. So if you slack a little when you are eating at home, you’ll need to stop doing that so that it becomes second hand to them. If you need a refresher, keep these things in mind:

Before Eating

  • Wash your hands
  • Sit up straight
  • Elbows off the table
  • Place your napkin in your lap
  • Wait for everyone at the table to be served before you start eating.

While You Eat

  • Take small bites and chew thoroughly
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Use your napkin
  • Do not talk with food in your mouth
  • Use your fork, not your hands
  • Use your knife to push food onto your fork, not your fingers.

After You Eat

  • Wipe your hands and mouth with your napkin. (No finger licking!)
  • Politely ask to be excused when you are done.
  • Put your cup, plate, and silverware in the sink.
  • Wash your hands and mouth.

Free Printables

Teaching kids table manners with these free printables can be fun! Dining etiquette is an important life skill that children need to have and these tips can help. Check it out.

This is a lot for a little one to remember, but don’t worry! I’ve put together FREE PRINTABLES for you to print out. There are a few things you can do with this printable. You can:

-Laminate it and use it as a placemat

-Place it under one of these clear placemats

-Put it into an acrylic standing sign holder and place it on the table during meal time.

It has descriptions AND pictures for little ones who cannot yet read to follow along. There’s also a fun game on the back. You can get your FREE PRINTABLES HERE.

Check out these tips for teaching #kids table manners and get your free printable!! Click To Tweet

If keeping your appetite and sparing yourself the embarrassment while dining out is the goal, then I hope these suggestions have helped you. It will take some time, but as with everything else, teaching your kids table manners is possible if you’re just persistent and patient.

If you’re looking for more ways to get your children to be self-sufficient, check out Raising Self-Sufficient Children and How to Motivate Your children to do Chores.

What have you done to teach your kids table manners? Do you have anything to add to the list?

Pamela is a Freelance Writer, Blogger, WAHM of 3, and Veteran Military Wife living in Southwest Texas. Raised in the Northeast and having lived a few years in the Pacific Northwest, she likes to write about mom life, parenting, frugal living, experiences, and WINE. (Lots of wine!) When she’s not busy chasing toddlers around, you can find her on the blog or on social media. Check her out on Instagram: instagram.com/wineandlavender

You may also like


  1. I don’t have kids and I never really thought about the learning process when it comes to table manners. I do notice though when someone isn’t doing it right! I’ve got my nephews and nieces this summer and it’ll be good to have this knowledge to back me up!

  2. I make sure that my kids learn and practice their table manners at home. It’s what they do when they’re a guest in their friend’s house and until they grow up. Manners are very important.

  3. Love the free printables! Table manners are so important! I always tell my boys no tablets at the table, elbows off the table, don’t talk with mouth full and to close mouth when chewing, etc. teaching them while young helps!!

  4. YES YES YES! I keep seeing so many children that just have none. And parents completely don’t care. It’s unreal. When I was a kid I’d get a smack if I wasn’t being all proper at the table ha! x

    1. Hi Tereza! There’s a lot of things kids used to be taught that don’t get taught anymore—- I smell another blog post coming on!! LOL

  5. Such a comprehensive list. This is the most forgotten topic and something that can really embarrass the kids when they grow old. So important to teach them early.

  6. I’m 32 and can’t cut food up! It’s because of a spinal problem I have though – I can’t put enough pressure on the knife to cut through food properly (unless it’s super soft). Somehow though, I’ve managed to teach both my kids how to cut up their food with no problems!

    Louise x

  7. This is so important and we’ve started teaching this all early to our kids. lots of adults I know sure could use a refresher!

  8. It’s so important to teach them the right table manners at their young age so that they’ll get used to it until they grow up.. It’s our responsibility

  9. I don’t have kids so I feel like I shouldn’t put my two cents in because I don’t actually know how difficult it is to be a parent and take kids out to restaurants… but I have to say that I do really appreciate when I’m sitting next to a table of young kids and it’s very apparent that their parents are concerned about their manners.

    Michelle | She’s Not So Basic

  10. It is so important to teach kids these table manners. The earlier they learn them the more they will just automatically do them 🙂

  11. I love this. I feel like no one teaches their kids manners anymore. I need to work more on table manners with my kids and maybe even myself, if we’re being honest. haha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *