Teaching Children the Basics Right from the Start
As parents or guardians or just people who interact with children, you want to make sure you instill the best qualities in them to build the character and work ethics of a well-rounded, upstanding and productive citizen. We make sure they know the importance of hard work, education and proper eating. But we often leave out a very important element that they will use every day in their lives. That is, equipping them with manners.
Etiquette, social graces, courtesy, manners, proper training, whatever name you want to use, they all bring about the same outcome; individuals that have high self-esteem, respect for others, and are perceived and exhibit a positive manner. Manners provides a child, teen or adult the tools to be their ‘best self’! Having these tools do not make a person better than the other or gives them a permission to look down on people. But it positively builds an individual’s confidence, offers them more reasons to be generous and polite and prepares them for the world.
As parents or guardians, your children are a reflection of YOU! You are able to mold their character and morals at a very young age. It is always a parents hope that when their children are out with others, whether at school, a friend’s house, etc., they are representing them in the best way possible. By teaching them etiquette and good manners early, you can better the chances of your child not embarrassing you in public. DISCLAIMER: if your child is under the age of 3 and wants a piece of candy or a toy that they see in the store, I can’t promise you anything!! 🙂
You can start teaching children etiquette and good manners as young as 6 months. If you didn’t start that young, please know that it is never too late to start! Baby sign language of “thank you”, “please”, teaching toddlers to say “excuse me” when two adults are conversing or getting your teenage son to help you with groceries out the car, can all be things you begin to implement in your everyday routine. When it comes to manners in the home, one very fun and interactive approach I always recommend is starting with table etiquette. Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, this is a great time for families to spend time together talking, catching up and learning about the happenings of the day or setting the tone for the day. Below are a few things you can start to do to encourage proper table etiquette.
- Have children set the table – nothing extravagant, just plate, fork, knife, glass and napkin (paper will do). You can create a DIY Placemat(free printable).
- Make sure everyone at the table are sitting up straight, not talking with food in their mouth and no elbows on the table. Play a game! – Assign points to each task and whoever does them the most throughout the week, wins!
- If someone is in need of something across the table, ask politely if they can “please pass the butter, bread or the “gray poupon”!
- Have children take off dirty plates and put them in the sink and trash in the garbage.
- Have children at the table ask to be “excused” if they need to leave at any time.
These are all simple, quick and small ways to teach children and the whole family, meaningful practices,that will then become habits that they will use now as well as when they get older. Believe me, this comes in handy at school, work, sports, business, dating, etc.! You are never too young or old to learn how to bring out your best self! Let’s start today!!
MeLisa Zackery is the Founder/CEO of Unlimited Possibilities Company, a corporate and social event planning company established in 2007. MeLisa has included a unique etiquette and personal development component due to it being close to her heart. She was taught etiquette at a young age by her mother, which was taught to her by her mother that was taught by her great aunt. She believes in helping all people achieve success and becoming their highest self. Unlimited Possibilities Co. specializes in all types of events and brings etiquette classes/seminars to numerous schools, organizations and homes.