Etiquette or manners is such an important lifelong skill for your children to learn. Not only does it display good behavior, but it also prepares children for future events, jobs, etc. in the adult world. Their etiquette will set them apart from the crowd; and teach selflessness…being polite and putting others first. Plus, a child with good manners is confident and respectful, ready to take on the world.
Recently, my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop participated in an etiquette dinner at Grand Finale Restaurant. Sitting straight in their chairs, napkins on laps and elbows off the table, we discussed table manners, grooming, clothing, electronics and much more. The girls practiced their manners by ordering, eating with correct utensils and saying lots of “please” and “thank yous” to the amazing wait staff. The girls were delighted to show independence by ordering for themselves and talking about their own etiquette experiences…being responsible, respecting parents/elders and turning off the electronics during family time.
The dinner was a success; and hopefully all the lessons will be used throughout their lives….and especially during the upcoming holidays.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner along with many other merry parties and family get-togethers, here are 10 easy ways to practice etiquette with your children:
- Write Thank-You Notes: This is unfortunately becoming a lost art. If your child receives a gift, make sure to have them write a thank-you note. It does not have to be long, but a few lines of appreciation and thanks.
- Grooming: Good grooming habits allow children to respect themselves. They need to remember to clean their hair, face, teeth and body every day.
- Dress for Success: Dressing in clean and appropriate clothing will help your children learn how to dress for every event. This also teaches them to dress for success!
- Think of Others: It’s important for your children to think of others first. It’s easy to hold open a door, give up their seat or give a food item to a friend/adult before taking their own.
- Confident Introductions: When your child is introduced to someone new, make sure they look that person in the eye and give them a firm handshake (Good for future job interviews). Follow this up with a “my name is…. And it’s nice to meet you”. Note: Make sure you know/approve of who your child is being introduced to…always remember Stranger Danger.
- Meal Prep Help: Your children should ask if he/she can help with any meal preparation in kitchen. They can easily help with pouring drinks, setting the table and putting out condiments.
- Pre-Meal Manners: Before the meal, make sure your child is sitting correctly, napkin in lap and waiting until everyone is seated/served before enjoying their food.
- No Electronics: When it’s family time, no phone, texting, computers, tablets or TV. Your children need to talk and create relationships with their family and friends. And it’s rude to use electronics at the table or when someone is talking.
- Mealtime Manners: Make sure your children are using the correct utensils, passing food (don’t reach), keeping elbows off the table and only asking for seconds once everyone has been served.
- After Dinner Etiquette: Once your children have finished their meal, they must ask to be excused, fold napkin on the table, push in chair and take their plate to the kitchen for washing. Again, your children should ask if any help is required to clean up dinner.
Those were just a few simple ideas to help your children practice their lifelong etiquette skills. For more information, I highly recommend the American Girl book A Smart Girl’s Guide – Manners (it’s good for boys, too). Or for a local resource, visit, learn and attend events at The Etiquette Institute of Cincinnati.
Ainslie Gordon is a St. Louis, Missouri native and graduate of the University of Missouri’s Journalism School. Her career has focused on advertising, public relations and event planning. In 2011, Ainslie and her family moved to Cincinnati; and she became a stay-at-mom and founder of the blog, Modhousewife.
Additionally, she was a fashion/trends contributor on Fox 19 and Fox 2. Currently, Ainslie is the Marketing Director for Game On! Fitness. She is also a Girl Scout leader and enjoys volunteering throughout the community.