Nobody wants to be around a toddler with ZERO manners, but most of us don’t have the time or patience to properly teach our child how to mind their p’s and q’s. That’s why we asked Lisa Gaché of Beverly Hills Manners for some easy tips and tricks, below, that could save us from creating an etiquette monster. You’re welcome!
By Lisa Gaché
1. Explain Why Manners Matter
Tip: Children need to understand why this stuff matters to them and how it can be applied to their everyday lives otherwise they have no use for it. Explain to them that manners, in their purest form, exist to clear away the distractions. For example, if a family sits down to dinner and one member is eating “like a pig”, it becomes distracting and can ruin the experience of the meal for everyone.
Trick: Sit down with your kids at mealtime and become the sloppy eater. Use your hands instead of your silverware, wipe your mouth on your sleeve, talk with a mouth full of food and witness the reaction. Hopefully, it will be met with horror and they will get it!
2. Make It Fun
Tip: Children will tune out big time if you don’t apply a little flair and fun to the learning process. Get silly, use big actions and examples and physically show them what good manners (and bad manners) look like.
Trick: Use posture as an example and greet your children after school in a hunched over position. Walk around the school campus or in the house slouching, sit at the table slouching. If you’re hunched over in public it will look silly and hopefully get a big laugh. This will be your opportunity to share with your kids how silly (and bad) it looks when they don’t pay attention to their posture. Once they perk up their ears, show them what it looks like to stand up straight, to sit up straight, to greet people standing upright and see if they notice the difference.
3. Keep It Simple
Tip: Don’t get complex using too many words or explanations. Deliver your advice using sound bites of information and demonstrating by using actions. Speak slowly and clearly and they are more likely to absorb the information. Take communication skills, for instance, they can get pretty complicated nowadays with modern technology giving us reason to construct new rules of etiquette daily.
Trick: Rather than bogging down your kids with lengthy jargon and intricate rules, explain to them that when all else fails they can reach for just one rule, “The Golden Rule”. This should remind them that no matter what the situation, if they treat others the way they wish to be treated, they will always have good manners.
4. Take It One Day at a Time
Tip: Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your kid’s manners. If you tackle one area at a time, your kid is much more likely to succeed.
Trick: Create a master “Manners Calendar” with 4 key areas of concentration: First Impressions, Introductions, Table & Dining Manners and Communication Skills and highlight one subject to focus on each week. Breaking down the subjects in this way will enable your kids to hone their skills and practice them all week long as opposed to getting overwhelmed by taking in too much information at once and trying to change too much too soon.
5. Lead by Example
Tip: Teaching kids good manners begins with you. None of this will work without the investment and reinforcement of the parent. However, your kids are not going to buy any of it if you are not willing to “walk the walk and talk the talk” yourself. It is up to us to embody this behavior first and then our children will naturally follow our lead.
Trick: Tell yourself it’s for the good of your children and take a breath before you chew someone out for cutting you in line or flip someone off for driving into your lane. Talk to your kids about showing a bit of restraint and not flying off the handle every time something doesn’t go your way. In a world where our kids are inundated with poor celebrity role models who show no restraint (think Kayné West at the MTV Video Awards), it is up to us to set them on the right course.
About Lisa Gache
Lisa Gache is the foremost etiquette, manners and life skills expert for children from a parenting perspective. The Los Angeles Times named her company, Beverly Hills Manners, the etiquette school to “teach your kids to be polite.” Gache is carrying on the traditions established by her predecessors—notably the late Elizabeth Post—but with a modern twist. Beverly Hills Manner’s latest endeavor with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles is a 6-week pilot program for the city’s youth, ages 12 to 15. The series consists of etiquette and manners training followed by a yearlong mentoring program, including educational and cultural outings for the children to put into practice all they have learned. The idea is for them to take the training they have learned and apply it to the outside world.
More info on BHM’s classes and programs is available at www.beverlyhillsmanners.com.