As an etiquette instructor, I often get asked questions from parents about how best to teach manners to their children. One piece of advice always rings true: it's never too early to start.
The Whole Foods Market in Town and Country dedicated last week’s Kids' Club story time to manners. During the hour, we read Mind Your Manners, discussed where different eating utensils go when setting the table and talked about which foods we can eat with our hands and which ones we should try to eat with forks. The children made veggie lettuce wraps and got to practice their manners by saying “please” and “thank you,” sitting at the table, using a napkin, asking to be excused and throwing their plates away.
Here are some practical etiquette tips I gave parents and caregivers of the toddlers in story time:
1. Lead by example.
That's right mom, dad or whoever is a caregiver for your child. Your children are looking at you to model manners and behavior. As a parent myself, I find this very convicting. Children are sponges, and they soak up everything they see going on around them. Talk and interact with them as you want them to talk and interact with you and others.
2. Talk about it.
Don't assume your children will just catch on to manners by observation; talk about them, too. What are manners? Why do manners matter? There are some great children's books out there that broach the topic and are a good jumping off point to discuss manners with your children more.
3. Start simple.
Sure, there are lots of etiquette skills we'd like our kids to learn, but for now, keep it simple. Start with mealtime and using “please,” “thank you,” and asking to be excused from the table. For really little ones, you can even use sign language for “please” and “thank you.”
4. Let them be involved.
Toddlers are just learning how to use utensils instead of their hands for eating. This is a great time to involve them in setting the table and giving them a napkin to practice using.
Interested in having your child learn more about table manners? I'll be teaching a one-hour Table Manners 101 class at the Whole Foods Market in Town and Country on Sat., Nov. 10, at 10am. The cost is $15 per child, which includes a snack and craft. Registrations can be made at 636.527.1160.
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