This post is from contributor Megan Zechman.
With the holidays approaching, many families will be sitting down for more formal meals, making it the perfect time for our young teens to learn some additional dining etiquette while brushing up on the behaviors they already know.
Like you, I’ve been teaching my kids table manners since they were young. Now that my girls are older, we’ve been moving beyond the basics. I’ve found that it’s an ongoing process that never ends; it just evolves as they grow.
Personally I love using the tools from the Etiquette Factory to teach my kids etiquette, whether it’s table manners or communication skills. As a busy homeschooling mom, I appreciate their short lessons and included activities.
What table manners do I want my kids to understand and follow now that they are older?
Dining Etiquette for Middle School Kids
1. Passing Food
When passing platters, it is common to pass to your right. However, if someone begins the opposite way, just follow along. It’s not rocket science. Nor is it a race. If the person next to you already has a platter in their hand, don’t make them hold another one. Just be patient and wait for them to finish.
2. If it Has a Handle…
Use it. If you’re passing around a gravy boat or another dish with a handle, pass it with the handle out so the person can easily grasp it. That’s why it has a handle.
3. Leave Some for Everyone Else
When the food reaches you, take your helping, making sure to leave enough for those after you. We know you’re a teen and you’re starving. You’re always starving. You can have seconds, or thirds. Just give everyone else a chance.
Also, when choosing your meat, take the piece closest to you instead of rooting through the whole dish. No one wants to see that, plus it’s just good manners.
4. Eat Slowly
Cut one or two small pieces of food at a time. It will keep things from getting cold, and limit the chance that you will scarf down your food. Like I said before, it’s not a race.
5. To Reach or to Ask, That is the Question
How far is too far to reach for food? If you can’t reach it with your arm straight out, leaning slightly forward, it’s too far. And if you reaching causes someone else to lean back, it’s too far.
6. Retainer Etiquette
Don’t take out your retainer at the table. Period. Instead, remove it before you sit down to eat. When you’re ready to put it back in, wait until the meal is finished and you have left the table.
7. Don’t Just Sit There
Be involved. Now that you’re older, you are expected to be an engaged, active participant during the meal. This means no slouching, excessive fidgeting, or grunting at people when they ask you a question.
Join in conversations with others at the table or listen politely. Don’t forget, holidays are the perfect time to hear all of your parents’ embarrassing middle school stories.
8. Can you Hear Me Now?
Do not bring your phone or another device to the table with you. You may suffer from separation anxiety, but no, you won’t die.
9. Just Hanging Out
When you are finished eating, don’t run off never to be seen again. Sit. Talk. Relax.
10. Help Clean Up
After everyone is finished, help clean up. I know it’s boring. Everyone thinks it’s boring. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help. Welcome to adulthood.
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just what I’ll be working on with my children this year. Does your list look totally different from mine? I’d love to hear about it!
What manners will you be working on with your teen this holiday season?
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