Raising Well-Mannered Children
Do you dream of raising polite, likeable, and friendly children? It's never too early (or too late!) to teach the fine art of etiquette and good manners to your kids.
Parents are Mentors
“Good manners are appreciated as much as bad manners are abhorred.”
—Bryant H. McGill
At a group picnic, a young boy with freckles and gleaming green eyes approached the table where I sat with mothers who chatted about their charming children. He opened his mouth wide and exuded a belch, which growled and rumbled as it rolled across the table like a hurricane. All the mothers looked his way, but none, including his own, knew how to react. Some squirmed and frowned. One blushed and nibbled her lip. Finally a peppy mommy smiled and asked if anyone knew the day’s temperature. Chatter rose again as if nothing had happened. The boy’s grin of accomplishment and his mother’s lack of response stood out, and I wondered how my grandmother would have reacted.
This isn’t a rare occurrence these days. According to an online poll published by American Demographics magazine in July 2003, 85 percent of adults surveyed think that Americans don’t have the manners they should. Manners seem to have vanished with the business suit and tie. People act more casual now than they did fifty years ago, and one byproduct has been the loss of etiquette. Who can reverse this trend? Parents.
Parents have the power to fill the next generation with kind, considerate adults who cheerfully say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” whenever the occasion requires. From first table manners, such as eating from a spoon, to learning how to make formal introductions and host a dinner party, moms and dads must teach their children manners. They cannot expect schoolteachers or caregivers to be the primary force behind instilling manners—etiquette is a way of life that originates in the heart, and parents are in charge of teaching their children family values.
“Fine manners need the support of fine manners in others.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
According to Cindy Post Senning, great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s The Gift of Good Manners, “The three principals for setting the tone in a home are respect, consideration, and honesty.” If children are expected to display proper etiquette, parents have to mentor this behavior. Start by creating the proper environment. “Talk to the family, including Baby, with respect,” Senning advises. “And always behave the way you want your child to behave.”
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