Etiquette is one of those things you think your children understand until, of course, you are around a group of relatives and you’re hoping they remember how to behave. Only at that point, most likely at the worst moment, is when you realize that, no, they don’t quite have it down, and, yes, you definitely still have to work on social skills. Additionally, these moments are usually sprinkled with a flaming face of shame, plentiful apologies for their behavior, and threatening glares of terror toward the kids.
As parents, we have all experienced that exasperation. The problem is, manners matter. Teaching our children how to behave socially to avoid offense or coming across as rude is important. It’s part of teaching our children about our value system in our culture, and it will also influence how our children are perceived by their peers and friends, as well as future college classmates, employers, and coworkers.
5 Practical Ways to Teach Etiquette During the Holidays
Etiquette classes go hand-in-hand with teaching kindness and respect. It’s a cycle of action and reaction, and failing to use proper social skills can create confusion, misunderstanding, and even hurt feelings. The society we live in today often seems harsh and uncaring, which is why we need our children, and ourselves, to express kindness more than ever. As with many skills, starting early is one of the best ways to help your children learn. Here are five helpful ideas for working on manners for kids this holiday season.
- Practice “Please” and “Thank You.” The holidays offer an abundance of opportunities for gifts or kind gestures from friends and family to your children. This is a great time to work on reminding your children to always say “please” and “thank you.” Additionally, talk to your children about the reasons behind gratitude and courtesy.
- Teach table manners. Parties and holiday get-togethers are the perfect opportunities for teaching your children to eat correctly with their flatware, to politely decline, to make requests, to not complain about what someone else has prepared, and to clean up after themselves.
- Remember your personal etiquette. We all know children watch everything we do and say. They are sponges! We must mirror the etiquette that we are trying to teach. If they hear us telling them to do something opposite that we do ourselves, it will create confusion.
- Work on being a good guest. The holidays offer multiple opportunities for learning how to be a good guest. For example, you can teach your children that not everything okay at home is okay at other people’s homes, that they should avoid being rowdy or reckless, and to thank their host for having them.
- Practice proper greetings. With numerous visits between friends and relatives during the holidays, there are multiple chances to work on learning how to greet people. You’ll want to encourage your child to give a wave, handshake, or hug, depending on the person, to make eye contact, smile, and to ask about the person’s well-being. A great way to help your child feel comfortable with greetings is to role-play the greeting with them! If your child struggles with eye contact, perhaps consider encouraging them to look for eye color.
5 Etiquette Resources for Homeschoolers
Teaching etiquette is easier said than done. At its roots, etiquette is about recognizing the value of another person as well as demonstrating good character. Many of us utilize the freedom of homeschooling to help instill lessons of character development, and etiquette for kids plays a role in that! Here are five solid resources for getting started!