Modern Manners Monday - Table Manners & Restaurant Etiquette - Divine Lifestyle

Modern Manners Monday – Table Manners & Restaurant Etiquette

Let's face it, good manners are at the top of the list for many mothers when it comes to our kids. Manners are one of my biggest issues with my three children (ages 7, 6 and 3)

Welcome to my new blog series, Modern Manners Monday. I get a lot of reader questions about manners for kids plus I see a lot of posts out there in the blogosphere about the same thing. Short of asking Ms. Manners ourselves, I thought that we could pose our most pressing etiquette and manners questions here.

Feel free to share your thoughts and give advice. I am by no means the etiquette expert but I figure if we put our collective heads together, then the result will most definitely be something of value.


Dear DMM: We eat out a lot with our four children. Lately we have noticed a serious decline in table manners and just in general how they are acting in the restaurant.

For the past several weeks, we are struggling with even getting them to put napkins on their laps but the biggest issue is crawling all over the booth. The kids range in ages from two to 10. I am constantly having to tell them to “get out from under the table.” “Stop crawling under the booth.” “Sit in your seat.” “Act like a lady.” “Act like a gentleman.”

It is embarrassing and ruining our dinner. You would think these kids act like this all of the time but it is pretty much reserved for restaurants. What do you suggest?

WHAT SAY YOU? Help a mama out!

Definitely link up and/or a comment if you have a good post, mishap or story. Please put a title and the name of your blog. Your post will then appear in the linky.

Email your questions to stacieconnerty (at) gmail (dot) com and I will get them posted as space becomes available. Please put “Modern Manners Monday” in the Subject line.

Totally inspired by the fabulous woman who is The Broke Socialite.

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27 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Jess

    Manners are key in our household.

  2. I would recommend creating a LIST of expectations/dinner manner rules and taking it with you to restaurant. If your kids are too young to read, draw the list. For example, for “no elbows on the table” draw stick figure with it’s elbows on the table and a big “X” through it. We have a list of 10 rules that my kids have to follow during dinner and putting the list on the table where they can see it helps.. 90% of the time. The other 10%, there’s just no use even trying. Kids will be kids sometimes, right?
    Also, bring plenty of things to occupy the kids including crayons, stickers, paper, and other small toys that they don’t play with everyday that will be exciting to them at the restaurant.

    Good luck!

  3. My husband and I want to teach our little boy to behave, but at age 18 months, we’re just starting to see the signs of the terrible 2’s on the horizon. Ok, not on the horizon, I think the terrible 2’s came a little earlier than age 2!

    I am eager to read more advice from other moms, I do not want to be the family with the unruly kids in the restaurant, but I know it can be a challenge for any parents to avoid it!

  4. I am going through the same thing with my 3yo, and what helped is giving him the napkin before each meal actually handing it to him, and with gentle reminders during the meals, I couldn’t believe how great he’s been doing, literally at the next meal he started wiping his face with the napkin and not his shirt…so it’s been wonderful !!!

  5. nicole

    Great idea!

    My kids seem to act the same exact way when out. I really liked the reader suggestion about writing out/drawing the rules. I’m going to try that because even with the stickers, toys, and small activities they still act like they’ve got no home training!!! πŸ™‚

    • Stacie

      I know exactly what you mean. I get embarrassed because I am positive people are thinking “doesn’t that mother teach her kids any manners?”

      And they may be thinking that!

  6. This is a great idea Stacie! I will definitely be back on Mondays to read these posts!

    We’re struggling with restaurant manners right now also, but it is my 16 month old, so there isn’t too much we can do. My daughter, who is three, was acting a fool in restaurants a few months ago, and we just kept explaining to her that climbing around in a booth/yelling/singing loud/etc. was not proper behavior for a restaurant. We also told her if she kept it up we would have to eat at home. It didn’t take her long to start behaving. Too bad we have to deal with my son’s antics now. πŸ˜‰

  7. jason

    Hmm…bring lots of crayons and paper; that helps occupy the mind. Also, I do from time to time go over the “rules” with the kids during the drive to dinner…I try to make it fun..question and answer session…seems to help…………sometimes..

  8. This is definitely something we need to work on in our house. I honestly hate going out to eat b/c I am so afraid my big guy will starting acting up. I really need to get over this fear and start working on this with him!

  9. Shasta

    If our kids act this way in a restaurant my husband and I take turns “sitting out”. Basically one of us takes the child that is not acting right outside to sit in the car. The other adults food is then “carry-out” and the child eats a sandwich at home. Works EVERY time, but you have to be willing to sit one out!

  10. This reminded me of that Cosby Show episode when Cliff takes all of Rudy’s friends to a nice restaurant and someone drops their fork, and all the kids are under the table looking for it.

    I’m with Shasta, you have to be willing to sit out a couple of times. It works.

  11. Eileen

    I know there are people who say dont take kids to restaurants and are upset by the noise or antics of kids. Most must not have every been parents or maybe just dont remember because EVERYONE has been in this position, or better yet everyone has BEEN a child before and was never perfect. My answer to them is, you dont take your kids to church, or a music program, museum, zoo, park,..etc, etc, etc, because you dont want to put others out? NONSENSE! Children need to be given a chance to learn. It might take some challenging times before they get it. Plus, kids have bad days…so one slip up cant erase all the good behaviour. I do think there are rules and expectations of kids and obviously at different ages. You would not expect the same from a 2 year old as a 10 year old. They need to know what the cause and effect will be and you need to follow through. I agree with one previous commenter. You need to explain that they will be going home, to the car, or outside if they dont comply. Kids of school age KNOW there are rules and do comply at school, so they KNOW they have to act a certain way, have manners, be talk quietly…or there will be a consequence.

    I also think for those who dont get out like this often or for the younger ones, you might have a dress rehearsal at home. Maybe you could PLAY restaurant at home. Teach proper manners and voice expectation.Heck, make it fun and take the “orders” at home so kids even learn how to speak up and order themselves in public. (big confidence booster). Other things like tipping a wait staff, trying really hard to keep their area clean, excusing from the table to use the rest room, etc can be discussed.
    I think its wrong to avoid public situations like this just to make peace. NO one ever learned anything by not trying.

  12. Elizabeth I

    I would first say that whether it is the restaurant or church or some other location, based on the ages of the kids and/or the time of the day…there can be trouble. I do understand that parents might want a break and not want to cook, but I think take-out might be a better approach sometimes.

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