This month’s question: How can I teach my children the importance of proper etiquette? Is etiquette still relevant or has it just become another landmark of our past?
You teach your children etiquette by example. We usually think of table manners first. If you want your children to be polite when they eat supper with another family, first teach them how to be polite at home. For more guidance in fork and spoon placement, sign them up for a local cotillion. Many are available in the metro area, but for free, you can teach your children at home how to say “please” and “thank you,” and to ask to leave the table if they need to make any bodily noises or blow their noses.
Very rarely will someone notice if your child is polite at the table or visiting their home—but they will always notice if your kids are demanding or rude. Etiquette is applicable in today's society, because it allows a lack of interference in communication.
When I teach etiquette to others the point I make is this: the purpose of etiquette is to help you feel most comfortable. If you know a few rules of what a society believes is polite and respectful, and follow these rules, you will feel more at ease and able to enjoy yourself, rather than worrying “am I doing what is right?” Following the basics of etiquette is a way to honor others around us, and that’s always the right choice.
Devonne Carter, LCSW, is a Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Edmond. 405-326-3923, www.carterscounseling.com.
It does seem, in many ways, that etiquette is no longer taught by parents or at school—especially not to the extent it was a generation or two ago. I think this is a disservice to our children. I strongly feel that kids should learn proper etiquette both at home and at school. Manners such as saying “please” and “thank you” and being respectful of others should never go out of style.
Some may think teaching kids to address elders as “Ma’am” or “Sir,” men holding doors for women or writing thank you notes are old-fashioned and outdated ideas; but why should they be? Teaching kids to be polite and respectful of others helps them to learn how to interact in society and become less self-centered—both of which are necessary to having healthy relationships with others.
Maybe your young child won’t be dining at a fancy restaurant where he needs to know the salad fork from the dinner fork or the proper placement for each, but when he’s old enough to take a date out to dinner, that information could come in handy and he might just thank you for teaching him. When she is old enough to interview for a job, proper etiquette could help put her at the top of the manager’s list. Start teaching manners and etiquette at home and if you want help, consider signing up for etiquette classes.
Tamara Walker, RN is a talk show host and speaker in Edmond. www.momrn.com.
As a person with experience in the business world, I can say without reservation that etiquette skills are still essential, and teaching these skills start in the home. Make manners a priority and make sure you practice what you preach. Have fun with it. Pick a special night and break out the china. Have a formal dinner and pretend that you and your child are on a date. Make the meal special as well (not mac and cheese!).
Also encourage your kids in public. Compliment them, and have others do the same. This can make a lasting impression, will give your child greater self confidence and motivation to continue acting with good etiquette once the results are seen.
Donnie Van Curen, M.A., LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. 405-823-4302, www.counseling1820.com.
Playing Mary Poppins every night has taught me that etiquette and manners are still as important today as they were in the days of Mary Poppins. In the show, Mary teaches Jane and Michael lessons such as “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” “Don’t interrupt” and “Treat all things in this world with kindness and care.” Through learning these lessons, children are able to live happy and healthy lives. The children are also reflections of their parents. The family only reaches harmonious living when the parents and children both start treating each other with respect. And that is what etiquette is really all about—treating each other with kindness and respect. It is a lesson everyone should live by no matter what age. Spit spot!
Madeline Trumble plays Mary Poppins in the national touring production of the same name. A native of California, Trumble has starred on Broadway in Newsies, and a variety of productions in regional theater. Our thanks to Celebrity Attractions for connecting us with the beloved, magical nanny!
Our Readers Respond:
- I believe etiquette is very important. As far as helping your kids learn, you have to model it and there are even humorous books out there for kids about etiquette that can make it fun. Being a polite, courteous person and one who knows how to eat properly at the table, for example will set your children apart when they are out in the real world.
- Manners are always important! The more we allow this world to get out of hand by not teaching our children such basic ways of society, the worse off we will be. When my children see some other kids acting out without manners and ask why they can't act like that, I point out how many people are staring at those children. I then point out how much people like those who can act with decorum and manners.
- One thing that has worked very well for us is simply to model manners for them. When the adults around them are polite to others, kids pick that up pretty quickly without any extra effort.
- In Edmond, we have etiquette classes at the MAC building in Mitch Park. Visit www.edmondok.com/parks/rec for dates and times.
Thanks to Mary Y., Sarah T., Dorothy H. and the City of Edmond Parks and Recreation for your feedback!
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