Dining Etiquette for Teens

by Christina Schnell

    As they transition into adulthood, many teens find correct etiquette becomes increasingly useful in their social lives. And yet, dining etiquette isn't necessarily taught in schools or always practiced at home due to busy schedules, eating out and various other reasons. Learning proper dining etiquette as a teenager sets the stage for future interviews, social events and internships teens will experience in a few years, explains Fiona Cameron-Williams, owner and president of FCW Hospitality and Private Residence Consulting, Inc. in New York City.

    Cutting and Chewing

    What passed for "good" dining etiquette when your child was 8 years old isn't likely to pass as a teenager. According to EmilyPost.com, cutting and chewing food should be done thoughtfully and graciously. Your teen should cut and eat one piece of food at a time and wait until he's finished swallowing before drinking from his glass. Carefully scoop small morsels on a plate with a knife and fork or gently pierce the food with fork spears rather than stabbing or scooping the meal as though it were his last.

    Passing and Transfer

    Most teenagers understand that climbing on dining room chairs or sitting on the table is inappropriate, but the subtleties of passing food items and hand position is less well known. Your teen should always ask for someone to pass the item instead of reaching across, and food should always move from left to right. She also should never attempt to serve herself, or grab a roll, when an item is being passed between two people, even if it passes in front of her, explains EmilyPost.com.

    Staying Clean

    Keeping one's face, hands and mouth clean during a meal keeps the experience pleasant and enjoyable for everyone, explains Cameron-Williams. Your teen's napkin should sit in his lap throughout the meal and be used as needed. Anything unsavory he accidentally eats, such as a strand of hair or a piece of bone, should come out discretely. If he gets food stuck in his teeth, needs to blow his nose or he experiences a coughing fit, he should excuse himself from the table and attend to the matter privately in the bathroom, explains EmilyPost.com

    Technology at the Table

    Cell phones are practically permanent fixtures in teens' hands, but they have little place in a formal dining setting, explains EmilyPost.com. Good manners mean giving dining guests her full attention, something that's virtually impossible if she's texting under the table every 30 seconds. Cell phones should be set on vibrate and placed in a purse or jacket, away from the dining setting. If your teen is expecting an important text or phone call, she should excuse herself from the table before replying.

    About the Author

    Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.

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