It’s Alright to Help a Kid out with His Manners

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
My 5th grade son’s best friend is a really nice and well-behaved child. My issue is that he has really bad table manners. They are so bad that it is painful to eat with him. He smacks his food and uses utensils like he is a warrior stabbing his prey. Do you think that there is a nice way to mention this to him? I really want this kid to be successful in life, and it kills me that his terrible table manners may hold him back. I know he is only in 5th grade, but I am not sure when and how he will improve, if his parents are not working with him on it. Thanks for any advice!
Just trying to help a kid out

Dear Just trying to help a kid out,
You are a good person to care so much about this child. I think you can help him without embarrassing him. When I am teaching a manners class and the children are eating lunch, instead of singling someone out, I make general statements to the group. You could say to anyone eating at the table, “Let’s all remember to not smack while we eat. I forget sometimes too.” As for his utensil use, you could remind your son to remember the correct way to cut at dinner, through a demonstration. If he already has great table manners, then alert him ahead of time that you are trying to help his friend, and you do realize that he is already doing everything correctly. This will alleviate any embarrassment for his friend, and you will be helping him take a step in the right direction. I applaud you for your efforts.