Sanity Saving Tips to Keeping Kids Well Behaved on Thanksgiving Day
November 18, 2014
These Thanksgiving etiquette tips will make for a pleasant dinner the whole family will enjoy
How to Have Perfectly Polite Kids at Thanksgiving Dinner
Good table manners are only part of the equation when it comes to keeping your kids cool, calm, and collected at Thanksgiving dinner. Table strategy and advance preparation can make a big difference, too. Our simple etiquette tips will help make sure your kids act show their shiny best selves throughout Thanksgiving Day.
Don't Forget the Fun
Whether you are at home or visiting loved ones for Thanksgiving, it is helpful to have familiar toys, games, or activities planned so kids don't get bored. Keeping them occupied will keep them less pouty, making for a far more pleasant kid.
Feed Them Before Dinner
Most young children have a narrow window for meal times. If they miss it, you’re almost guaranteed to get a cranky kid due to lack of food. So making them wait until the meal officially begins could result in some less than desirable behavior, especially if they’re under 4 years old. Before you travel to a relative's house or before guests arrive at your home, make sure that they’ve had something to eat so they are cheery for company.
Go Over the Guest List
Before Thanksgiving dinner begins, let your kids know who is coming. Tell them which familiar people they can expect to see and who they’ll be meeting for the first time. Give them a few fun facts about the less familiar folks so they feel more comfortable chatting with their new friend.
Do a Practice Run
We are sure that you have taught your children basic manners, but if you are the type of family that sits down to regular semi-formal meals, doing a dinner "practice run" will help your kids feel prepared for the meal. While sitting down to your less formal or regular dinners, remind them about not slurping soup, saying excuse me before they speak, and keeping their elbows off the table and their napkins in their lap.
Let Them Sleep
Little ones are far less loveable when they are fighting sleep. Make sure that they are well rested before the meal begins. If your kid needs a nap, let them sleep — even if they sleep through the meal. You can always make a plate for them to enjoy later. A whining, miserable kid at the dinner table is not anyone's idea of a good time.
Kids Don't Have to Say the Darndest Things
You can’t control the random semi-inappropriate things that may pop out of your child's inquisitive mouth. You can however, make sure that they know which situations call for a please, thank you, or excuse me. And if you want to prevent any bad blunders, instruct them to tell you what they wanted to ask another adult at the table so you can gauge if the question is appropriate or not. Just be sure you explain the reasoning behind your "no" should it come up.
Kid's Table Alternative
Thanksgiving is all about family togetherness, so why keep the kids at a separate table (where they can make all kinds of mischief)? If there is enough room at the big family table, seat them next to kid-friendly folks who won't mind lending a hand with them at dinner. Keep crayons and construction paper at their placemats to keep them occupied.
Kid's Table Musts
If you have to have a separate table due to space, make sure you task older children with important jobs for the kid's table. Older kids can help pour water and dish out plates for younger kids, which will make them feel like a big help and will save you from making trip after trip to the kid's table. Also, keep an age cap on the kid's table; no teenager will appreciate being stuck with a bunch of kids under 12.
Put a Device Ban on Dinner
To keep kids engaged at the dinner table and not mindlessly staring at their phones or their handheld game device, make a “No Devices” rule. You can joke about how thankful you’ll all be to have an hour or two free from tiny screen. To reinforce this rule, ask all adults to leave their devices away from the table too.
Switch Up Dessert
If the kids table starts showing signs restlessness, switch people up for dessert. Allow kids to eat at the "grown-ups" table or seat them next to someone who doesn't mind entertaining kids. This is a great idea, even if you’re all at one table. A different seating plan for dessert will help keep things interesting and allow other people to take a turn keeping an eye on the kids.