Teach Your Grandchildren Manners

My grandma Amelia was a big presence in my life when I was growing up. Every Thursday she and my grandpa Irving came over to our house for dinner. My parents, grandparents, two younger brothers, and I sat around our large dining room table enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal. We were always on our best behavior because table manners were important to my grandma whom we affectionately called “Emily Post.” The late Emily Post was an author famous for writing about etiquette. In 1946, Post founded The Emily Post Institute, which continues her work.

Learning good manners has served me well in life and I’ve instilled that value in my grandchildren. While parents are the first ones to teach children manners, grandparents can reinforce the basics, and share some of the finer points of etiquette with their grandchildren through fun activities.

Advice columnist, Amy Dickinson agrees and shares some advice with a grandma who’s worried her 9-year-old grandson needs to learn some table manners.

Advice for Grandma from Ask Amy

Dear Amy: I am facing a dilemma: My 9-year-old grandson needs to be taught some table manners!

He doesn’t use the napkin given to him, doesn’t know the correct way to use utensils, licks his fingers, and if he likes a particular food, he cleans out the bowl.

I have never given my son and his wife advice on child-raising. I don’t think it is my place. I do think my son is a loving and dedicated father, who is touching most bases. But on this issue, Dad isn’t doing a very good job.

I know you’ve written in the past that grandparents should not intervene unless it is an issue of safety, but I think this child’s poor table manners will haunt him in adulthood.

Otherwise, he is a smart, kind, wonderful, and curious boy.

Concerned Grandmother

Concerned: There is a big difference between intervention and influence. Grandparents have countless opportunities to be positive influences on their grandchildren, in part because of the quality of time and attention that grandparents devote to their grands.

Nine-year-old children are at an ideal age to learn new skills, and most children this age LOVE to learn to cook. The next time your grandson is with you (alone, not with his folks), introduce him to the kitchen. Make tortillas together and have a taco meal, or put together personal pizzas. Let him peel and slice a cucumber for the salad. Does he want brownies for dessert? He can follow directions on the box and make them himself. (For more ideas on recipes for kids, check FoodNetwork.com and/or watch “Chopped Jr.” together.)

While your meal is on the stove, show him how to set the table — show him which utensils go where. Can he guess where the water glass goes? Why does he think it goes in that spot? (So he can reach it with his right hand.)

My overall point is that your grandson will see that he has a stake in the meal, and in how it is eaten. While he is eating, you can praise his efforts and give him some more tips and occasional reminders. When his competence improves, notice and praise him.

Teach Grandchildren Social Skills

You can help your grandkids with many different social skills. Help them write thank you notes, teach them to share, and teach them that it’s good manners to put the cell phone away when at the dinner table.

Another great teaching opportunity is when your grandkids spend the night at your house. Explain how to be good houseguests, respect other people’s property and clean up after themselves.

Let us hear from you

Some Kudos We've Received

Scroll to Top