Anyone who knows me well, knows that dinner time at home with my family is the BEST part of my day! We love to have FUN around the dinner table with wacky theme dinners and games, but we also try to make it a point to TEACH things to our kiddos while we are together at the table.

A recent dinner with neighbors (who have no children of their own, and virtually NO sense of humor) became a particularly embarrassing and humbling experience as my two sweet, beautiful little girls morphed into wild, ravenous animals the minute they sat down at the table.

If your kids are anything like mine, learning table manners and etiquette does not exactly rank high on their list of things to do- in fact, sometimes I wonder if they have ANY manners at all!?

Recently, my husband and I decided to focus our efforts in this area and came up with ten simple table manners that we wanted our girls to know.

Top 10 Table Manners every Kid should Know:

(Caution: I realize these are VERY basic, but we had to start somewhere with our little wild animals!!!)

1. Never complain about the food you are served.

2. Never talk with food in your mouth.

3. Never interrupt others while they are talking.

4. Always put your napkin in your lap.

5. Always wait until everyone is seated and the prayer is said before beginning the meal.

6. Always say please and thank you.

7. Always pass the salt and pepper together.

8. Always ask to be excused if you need to leave the table during the meal.

9. Always stay seated until excused at the end of the meal.

10. Always say thank you to the cook or host.

So we typed up our top ten list, printed it out and introduced it to our little wild animals the other night at dinner. After a few (very un-polite) moans and groans, we then announced our corresponding “Top Ten Table Manners Incentive Program” which states that anyone who displays ALL TEN table manners during dinner would get a sweet treat at the end of the meal (again, I don’t like to think of this as bribery, but rather a highly effective “incentive program”). The mention of rewards and sweet treats was met with loud, obnoxious cheering (also very un-polite, but I admired their enthusiasm).

I am happy to report that our little wild animals are well on their way to becoming more self-controlled little ladies- though I have a feeling our list will have to resurface many times over the years to really impress it in their minds.

I encourage you to take time this week to come up with your own “Top Ten Table Manners List”, or click HERE to download a printable copy of ours… good luck taming your little (and not-so-little) wild animals at the dinner table!

What others would you add to the list? I’d love to hear.

If you want more encouragement from a mom of five, browse the Mentor Mom section. We are all in this together and NO days are perfect.

***Once you’ve mastered the Table Manners, you may head onto 7 Highly Effective Ways to Raise Lazy and Entitled Children . 😉 That is a much easier parenting feat, don’t you think? 😉

Simple, but Highly Effective Ways to Raise Lazy and Entitled Chidlren

Kristy Seibert is an award-winning interior designer, event planner, blogger and “real-life mom”. To find out more about Kristy and her family dinner resources, check out her blog, At Home with Kristy Seibert,