Etiquette Friday: Manners and Social Skills for ChildrenBy Angela Marshall, 4th May 2012
It’s Friday and the day I request you join me in my campaign for 2012 to change “Casual Friday” to “Etiquette Friday”, to get people and companies involved. If we consciously make an effort every Friday then hopefully it will become a habit every day. I challenge you to make one small change a week and by the end of the year let’s hope we have a more pleasant and positive society.
Manners and Social Skills
Good manners are a very important social skill that will help any child’s confidence and help them to be more successful both now and in their adult years. It will benefit them for the rest of their lives. However, we are not born with good manners, so children need to be taught them. People respond to us, including children, better when we have good manners and it will help children to achieve the respect they deserve. The best way to teach manners is for parents to lead by example, plus it is important to allow the child time to learn how to behave in various situations.
1. Ps and Qs
Teach your children to say “please” when asking for something and “thank you” when they receive something. It shows respect and appreciation.
2. Telephone Etiquette for Children
Encourage your children from an early age to answer the phone clearly and politely. It is a good idea to show them how to leave a message on an answer phone and advise them not to phone people at unsocial times e.g. early in the morning or meal time. Having a conversation with a member of the family or a friend will encourage them to make conversation in general. Many children have a mobile phone, from an early age; teach them not to shout, not to use it when in company and to avoid a loud ring tone in public places.
Teaching children how to introduce themselves may not be the norm but practising it now will benefit them when they are older. It will may, also, help them when meeting new friends e.g. “Hello, I’m Paul and what’s your name?” Don’t be afraid to introduce your children to friends when they meet them and teach them what to say in response e.g. “Hello, Paul, it’s nice to meet you”. As they get older, on certain occasions, let them shake hands when you do and include girls as well as boys. Getting comfortable meeting new people will help them for when they go away to university and/or when they start work, as they will find it natural to open conversations with people and they will appear more confident, courteous and respectful. People like polite and well-mannered people even if they don’t comment at the time.
4. Letter Writing
Thank-you letters are used less so with text, phone and emails and yet the person that receives a handwritten note always remembers it with fond memories. Encourage your children to send postcards to grandparents, relatives or friends instead of sending emails and texts. It may cost more but it will also help them learn how to create a letter for when they go to work or may even encourage them to be an author.
5. Dining Manners
Sitting down together as a family for a meal is important for both children and adults and having no mobile phones is a great rule. Families who share their meals together tend to be more thoughtful and interested in each other as well as other people. It is also the perfect time to teach your children table manners. Encourage them to help you lay the table as this will teach them what goes where.
Many children (and adults) eat too quickly which is bad for their digestion as well as bad mannered. Teach them to eat slowly, quietly and with their mouth closed. Create a rule for how to leave the table; kids should stay at the table until excused. For example they can say “Thank you for my meal, I enjoyed it. May I be excused, please?” You may also want to encourage them to bring their own plate and cup to the kitchen sink or even load it in the dishwasher. It will help introduce the habit of being tidy.
6. Eating out in Restaurants
It is good to eat out with your children, so that they become familiar with being waited upon. However, meals will take longer when served by waiters/waitresses, which they will need to be aware of. Remind them of their “Please” and “Thank You” when served.
7. Social Skills
Not all children find it easy to make new friends, encouraging them whilst they are young will help them in later life. These skills will give them confidence when dining with strangers and generally mixing with new people. You never know – it may refresh and improve your own manners at the same time!