Etiquette is vital for youth to grow into well-rounded and savvy people. It encourages them to be respectful and aids in social development. Parents ask me often about the importance of etiquette and what they should do to make sure their children have good manners, so below are my do’s and don’ts for parents to raise well-mannered children.
- Do practice good table manners at home.
With work and after school activities for children, it may be hard for some families to sit down and have a meal together but good manners start at home. If you are not having seated meals at home daily, aim for once a week or even once or twice a month. During the meals, the family can practice table manners such as how to handle the utensils and posture at the table, as well as soft skills such as small talk, eye contact and smiling.
- Don’t be discouraged if your children do not seem thrilled at the idea of etiquette.
When I was younger, my mother would work with me on my table manners all the time first starting with how to sit at the table, and eventually advancing to proper dinner conversation topics. I thought it was silly and quite annoying at times, therefore I did not take her seriously. She did not give up and now, not only do I have impeccable manners, but I am a certified etiquette consultant who teaches etiquette to others. So, the moral of this story is never give up with training your children. They are paying attention even if they act like they’re not, and eventually they will understand the importance of what you taught them and they’ll thank you.
- Do start early teaching soft skills to your children.
Parents should start teaching etiquette to their children very early. A good start is to begin around age three teaching the “Magic Words” which are “please” and “thank you,” as well as how to say “hello” and “goodbye” to others. As your children age, you should add more skills such as introductions, knowing how to have a conversation with adults, how to act in public and how to express appreciation. Remember that instilling manners in your children is a continuous charge that is given to you once your child is born and you have it until they are adults.
- Don’t try to do it all by yourself.
As I stated earlier, good manners start at home. This does not mean that you should not enlist the help of an expert to support the lifelong training of your children. When I was young, my parents placed me in etiquette, public speaking, leadership, charm and modeling classes (for fun) to help foster my social development. There are always classes in the area that your children can take and the bonus is that teenagers can put the training on their resumes for college and career opportunities.