As the mother of four small children ranging from eight to one and one-half years, it seems to me that there is nothing I can do for them that will benefit them more, socially, than to teach them good table manners.
I have seen little children come to the breakfast table unwashed and in their night clothes. Nothing encourages a child (or grown-up) to act his best, more than a neat, clean, nicely-arranged table.
Children should be taught the use of table napkins so they become a habit of their everyday life. A napkin is a necessary.
We should teach our boys and girls that mealtime is a time not only to satisfy our hunger but should be a time for cheerful, pleasant conversation between parents and their children. Quarreling and "telling on" each other at this time should never be allowed.
Where there are several small children, accidents are sure to happen but little mishaps should not be enlarged upon too greatly. Some small punishment, as being sent away from the table for a few minutes is far more effective than too much scolding.
The little ones should be be encouraged to take a moderate and respectful part in the conversation. They can relate what they did in school that day, tell some story they have read or heard or tell something they have observed in Nature. Each child should be taught to listen attentively to the one speaking. We should see that they chew quietly and slowly, impressing upon their minds the value of thorough mastication.
Thus it seems to me that children properly instructed will grow up and go out into the world with an ease of manner and consideration for others that will do a great deal for them.