Dinnertime can be one of the most beloved times of the day. It is when your family can sit around the table, eat delicious food and talk about daily events. However, often life becomes busy and these priceless moments turn into a timed event, where the winner is determined by who can scarf down his or her food the fastest.

Because dinnertime isn't as valuable as it used to be, children have developed disgusting habits that prevent them from eating with proper manners and etiquette. This week is National Etiquette week. It is the perfect excuse for teaching your children proper table manners. Below are a few suggestions to help your children learn that the dinner table isn't a zoo.

1. Teach, teach, teach

The only way your children will learn how to properly eat is if you take the time to teach them. Teach them the correct way to set a table. Teach them how to behave at the dinner table. Teach them what to do when they are at a fancy restaurant. Teach them how to carry on an appropriate conversation at the dinner table and teach them what topics they should avoid while they and their dinner guests are eating.

Don't sit down and have only one or two lessons about behavior at the table. It is a continual process that must be repeated. The more lessons your children receive and the more you review it, the more comfortable they will become. You will notice your children will become excited to eat a nice dinner, your dinner guests will enjoy their meal and you can avoid being embarrassed by your children's behavior.

2. Practice makes perfect

Even though it is crucial you continually teach your children how to behave at the dinner table, you must practice etiquette for them to apply it to their daily lives. Once a week, have a fancy dinner where your children must practice proper etiquette and manners. Praise them for their good habits and kindly let them know where they can improve. To avoid making your children feel overwhelmed, take one aspect of proper eating and work on that for an entire week. Don't try to throw every concept at them at once. Work on one thing, then move on to another. Make it fun and enjoyable and not an overwhelming and frustrating lesson.

3. Be an example

Your actions speak louder than words. You cannot expect your children to behave at the dinner table if you do not. Make it a point to continually maintain good manners and practice proper etiquette while you are in their presence. Children are constantly watching your actions. When they see adults performing one task, they believe it is OK and will then copy that action. Be an example. Don't let even one meal slide by without doing your best to maintain proper manners and strong etiquette.

4. Make it fun

Don't make etiquette boring and monotonous. Create games to help children learn proper table settings or make up songs to help them remember etiquette rules. You know what works best for your children. Dinner is a time for family. It is a time of laughter and enjoyment. Children shouldn't dread this time of day. It should be something they count on and look forward to. By making mealtime fun as well as an educational experience, you can develop memories that last a lifetime.

Always remember your children are not animals. There is no reason they shouldn't sit at the table with proper etiquette no matter where they are. Teach them, practice with them, be an example and make it fun. If you combine all four of these elements, you will reap the results.

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