Kids and Manners 101
Kids say the darndest things... but when it's something totally rude, it's your job to step in and make sure they understand what they did. Modern Manners Guy details some basic manners tips for the younger set.
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The great Dr. Seuss wrote, Oh, The Places You’ll Go to inspire young children to always follow their dreams. However, when I’m around kids who act like the world is their personal errand boy, I’ll go any place--as long as it’s far away from them! As a parent of two amazing kids (age 6 and 2), I'll admit to getting taken in by their cuteness, except when it comes to ignoring good manners. And this has nothing to do with being an etiquette expert--this is strictly about teaching them common courtesy, so they grow up being respected, not detested.
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A lot of parents believe their kids are perfect angels, incapable of any wrongdoing. To this, I say, ‘Ha!’ Angels? Really? Paging reality… paging reality… we have a serious case of parental delusion.
Kids are the single greatest part of my life, but allowing them to escape common manners, simply because you don’t want to discipline them, is only setting them up for a long life of loneliness.
As much as this topic deserves more than 3 tips (so trust me, there will be more episodes about this issue...), let’s jump into this topic, kicking and screaming, with my top 3 quick and dirty tips for kids' manners 101.
Tip #1: Dining Etiquette
In my article, “Can You Bring Kids To Restaurants?," I outlined the many do’s and don’ts of dining with children. As you read that article title, some of you may have just rolled your eyes, since you have had the experience of dining out with children before. Not always so pretty, is it?
It can resemble zoo animals during feeding time: loud noises and limbs flailing out of control, while food gets shoveled in with no regard for where it may land. If this was baseball, and your ERA was based on the actual success rate of kids sitting down quietly to enjoy a meal, your batting average would be something like .185. And for all you non-baseball fans--that’s hardly an MVP average.
But this is reality.
All kids lack the natural ability to sit still and eat. It’s not the end of the world. But it’s a skill that has to be learned over time, and it’s up to us to teach it. Similar to walking, if you guide them, and show them how to do it over and over, they will eventually get it.
And when all kids are hungry, they want food NOW. I mean, "NOW, MOMMY! NOW!!! "Honestly, they can’t help it, and again, it’s not totally their fault. But the more they witness how a restaurant operates and who the players are (meaning, the waiters), they are more likely to understand that it’s not the same as mealtime at home, and that things can take time.
Even though dining out with kids can be stressful, it’s critical for their development. Dining out is fun, exciting, and introduces them to new foods and different settings.
To help the experience go smoother, always pick an earlier time to dine out so that the restaurant is less busy. Bring food from home for the kids, too, just in case they don’t like what is being served. And to make the transition even easier, play “Pretend Restaurant” at home, so they know what to expect. Explain to them what a waiter does, and what a menu is.
In the end, practice makes perfect, and the only way kids will learn how to act as adults in restaurants is if dining out becomes second knowledge to them as kids.