5 Dining Tips to Bring Home to the Family

In celebration of the kids going back to school (hooray!), let’s shift our focus to etiquette that serves the whole family. Yes, there are many lessons that your child will learn in school. Others, however, are best learned at home. Don’t forget to teach your kids these 5 valuable dining lessons that translate from the dining table to the boardroom and beyond:

1.     Plan Ahead

In prior posts, I’ve touted the importance of planning out business dinners - intentionally selecting a restaurant, meeting with the hostess in advance, preselecting appetizers, etc. 

You can teach your children to plan ahead by having them do something as simple as set the table. Have them think through all of the china, glassware and utensils needed to service the meal. As they get older, take it a step further, and have them help you cook! Just as a chef needs to gather the mise en place to execute a beautiful dinner, your kids will learn to think through and plan for a successful outcome.

2.     Grooming & Attire

You know the saying: You never get a second chance to make a first impression? It’s true – whether it’s making new friends or business deals.

You know that showing up to a business dinner looking dirty and disheveled could kill a deal before it even gets started. Pass this valuable lesson on to your family by making sure your kids show up to the dinner table with clean faces and clean hands. 

3.     Eye Contact

“I’ll know you’re listening, when you look at me.” – Mom.

I heard this phrase countless times growing up - and for good reason! One of the most effective ways to engage with and make others feel valued is by making eye contact. Teach your children to be good listeners by using their ears AND eyes while enjoying a meal together.

4.     Fidgeting

Whether you’re jumping up to use the restroom, constantly wringing your napkin or absent-mindedly checking your iPhone, remaining “still” is hard work. Our society moves at a break-neck pace and hardly, if ever, do we have the luxury of sitting still. However, the art of dining involves immersing yourself fully and being truly present. Practice slowing down, savoring your food and remaining seated with your children. This learned skill will serve them well throughout their school years and in business.

5.     Screen Time

Speaking of your checking your cell phone… Don’t allow electronic devices at the dinner table. I realize it’s tempting to let the iPad act as a babysitter when you’re out at dinner with the family – but that practice teaches children that they can “check out” when life gets tedious or boring. Instead, involve them in the conversation. Adjust your dinner table chatter to include them. Ask them about their day! You’ll be surprised how much you (and they) learn.

These skills are ones that your kids will refer back to throughout the rest of their lives. So, set them up for success now and practice early & often.

Julian Leaver