A sloppy toddler feeding himself some soup or vegetable and soiling his bib is an adorable sight. But, as the toddler grows up, one expects him to drop or spill less as it becomes slightly unappealing for others. Also, clanking of cutlery at the dinner table or making noises while a child eats is not a very pleasant experience either for others. Dinner table etiquette is as much desirable in kids as it is in adults. Hence, teaching these 11 table manners to your child is of utmost importance .

We all know the importance of good table manners. Also, learning manners has no age criteria; in fact the sooner the better. If your child eats on his own, then he is old enough to learn and exhibit good table manners as well. Here is a list of 11 good table manners for a confident child, that every parent should teach their child regardless of the age:

Come alone to the table: This means, no toys and no books. And keep away those electronic devices as well. Dinner table is for eating; anything else needs to take a backseat for a while.

No talking while eating: Nobody likes to see the chewed up ball of food in your mouth. And Heavens only save if a food particle flies right out of the mouth and lands itself on someone. Gross? Just imagine this happening to you. So don’t encourage your child to talk while he is eating.

Right posture is a must: Slouching on the chair doesn’t look attractive. You may not realise it but your child stooping to eat her food is not a pleasant sight. And that foot on the chair! Ooh la la, it must absolutely go down.

Keep mouth closed while chewing: Eating is supposed to fill your stomach and satiate your soul. Hence, it is advisable to eat in silence. Just imagine the dinner table filled with noises from chewing of different kinds of foods. It’s not pleasant for other diners.

Don’t fill the plate to the brim: Teach your child to take food in small portions. And take a second helping only when they finish the previous food. This way they will learn to respect their food and not waste it.

Keep your used hands to yourself: Nothing is more disgusting than seeing food hand prints on serving spoons and ladles. It instantly puts others off from taking seconds. Personally, I feel like leaving the table. Tell your child that he must serve himself/others with the hand with which he doesn’t eat.

No eating off others’ plates: You have your own plate, so eat from it. If you want more, just say so instead of picking food from others’ plates. Some kids pick food from their parents’ or siblings’ plates, as it shows or spreads love. Remember, love is in the food and not on someone’s plate.

Use napkins: Don’t wipe soiled hands on shorts or skirts or wipe mouths on the shirt sleeves. Firstly, the food patches on clothes are very off putting, and secondly, sometimes the food stains never go. Sit with a napkin and wipe your hands on it if you must. But it’s better to wash your hands first and then wipe them on the napkin.

Say ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’: These are magical words and also good table etiquette. In case of accidental food spilling, requesting second helping, passing food/cutlery etc., using these words can make an unpleasant situation a little more acceptable.

No picking at the dinner table: Some kids, well adults too, have this habit of picking their teeth. It’s gross and hence not to be done. And no, not even with a tooth pick at the dinner table. Yes, a food item stuck in the teeth can be uncomfortable, so either wait for the meal to get over or excuse yourself to go to the bathroom to pick.

Know the right cutlery: A preschooler not able to cut properly with her knife is acceptable. That will come later. As long as she eats her soup with a spoon and eats her legumes with a fork, you know your child is sorted. But to an older child, point out the use of different types of forks (the one for eating fruits and food) and spoons (the one for the soup, meal and desserts).

These 11 table manners for a confident child will help your child from many episodes of public embarrassment and learn to conduct himself smartly in public. Remember the old adage, “Start them young, grow them smart.”