Teaching Boys Table Manners

table manners for kids

Can you please stop pointing your gun at me? (straw turned into a gun)

Why is your face inside your bowl?

Corn does not go inside your nose!

Farting at the table is not okay.

Why are your LEGO toys at the table again?

Oh.

my.

word.

You’d think they’d get the point after the gazillionth time they’ve heard these things.  My boys have shoved food amongst other things into their body parts (mouth not included) that I didn’t know could fit in those tiny holes. Needless, to say meal time can be chaotic and the younger they are it’s all but peaceful.

Don’t worry you’re not alone and remember most of the time they don’t even realize they are doing it–so they need us to encourage them on to better manners.

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Teaching Boys Table Manners

Last year, I decided not to let meal time stress me out.  How did I do that? Well, I implemented our “Pigging Out” game and it’s worked marvelously well until I was the only one getting all the piggies, lol. Actually, it’s my husband who gets all the piggies but shhh don’t tell him I told you.

You can read more about our game here: A Fun Way to Teach Table Manners to Kids.  This game was a life saver and took the stress that I felt being the only one implementing our table manners. We’ve been doing this for over 6 months and our piggies are all tattered and worn to prove they;ve gotten used.  Though I must say after a month into it they didn’t get used at all and then we were back to using them at every meal. Such is the life of learning and growing in a new area.

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When we first started implementing our table manners game I posted this little printable (click here to download and print): table manners game or this one Table Manners Printable on our dining room wall. I had one of our kids read it before our dinner meal, just to remind them what we expected.  After a month into it we took it off, but I’m now having to put it back up again. One of my boys struggles with hunching over his food, so much so, his face is almost a few inches away from his plate throughout the whole meal. It looks as though he’s guarding his plate with his whole body.  So I’ll have him tell me from the Table Manners Poster on our wall what it is he needs to work on at this meal, so he can remind himself.

So, my one tip on teaching boys table manners is– BE SPECIFIC.  I can’t just tell my boys “use your table manners”, I have to be specific. Otherwise, they assume they are using table manners just because they used their napkin, meanwhile, they are also picking their nose. For the most part boys do not respond to subtle hints, they need you to be specific.

In all of this, my goal is to plant seeds in hopes that they will catch on and adopt this for themselves.

What have you tried to help your boys or girls to have better table manners?

Also, the following has worked wonderfully in our family–just click on the images.

Table Manners Game

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  1. Hello Mari. I have been following your blog for awhile and really enjoy it. I feel a neat connection to you because I live in Quito with my Ecuadorian husband and children. We lived in the States for 10 years before moving here. Anyway, I really liked this idea for table manners. I printed the printables and implemented it today at lunch. My 2-yr old daughter didn’t really participate bc of her age, but my boys, ages 4-9, were excited about it when I explained it. On a positive note, I did see them trying to have better manners. On the negative side, they are always so competitive, and this got intense with one getting really mad that he got a pig, and then trying to put the pig back in the jar, or denying that he wasn’t using good manners. Each brother was trying to call out the others as to what they were doing wrong, and they kept arguing. At one point some pigs got thrown around the table. I obviously need to go back to square one and make rules for the implementation of the game. 🙁 Any advice?

  2. Hi Sara, It’s good to know there are Ecuadorian residents following maybe we’ll meet one day. I feel like our world is smaller when we leave the U.S.
    Anyways, what you mentioned is very normal so don’t worry. I would do as you mentioned start with the explaining the rules and maybe everyday at each meal. Also, let them give you a piggy a few times a week so that they can see how you respond and you can even stop and say–see boys I didn’t get mad, even I have to remember my manners. We had to do this as some of what you mentioned also happened in our home.
    Kids getting upset because they were called out.

    We just remind them that the whole purpose of this is to have good manners and what they’re doing by throwing pigs around or what not, is not good manners. My three year old has the hardest time so we set the piggy far away from him when we give him one, even though he doesn’t claim it as his he’s still trying not to get another one. Also, we only use ours at dinner that way they have other meals to remember their manners without the piggies. We don’t do prizes or consequences for piggies in our home but maybe your kids need an incentive to be good sports about the whole thing and you can give them an incentive–if they are good sports. Eat their dessert first or pick a dessert for the evening–something simple. We’ve in the past let our boys pick between yogurt sticks that we stick in the freezer (makes them think it’s ice-cream), bon-ice, juice, graham crackers with peanut butter, cookies… Hope this helps. I think they’ll get used to it after awhile so hang in there.

  3. Pingback: A Fun Way to Teach Table Manners to Kids & Free PrintableInspired by Familia

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  5. Great article Mari! Question- how do I print the poster? I clicked on it but it has a banner saying “free printable” across the rules. Am I doing it wrong? Thanks again 🙂

    • Hi Heather, Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I didn’t realize the bulleted “At our table” printable was not linked here. My apologies. I’m trying to locate it now so I can add it. Thanks! ~Mari