With our fast paced, technology assisted lives, we sometimes forget the manners that our parents worked so hard to ingrain in us. And while I do not in anyway consider myself an etiquette expert, I do have some suggestions in how to impart some common courtesy to our children that will have very positive returns in their interaction with friends, adults, and the general public.
When to Use (or Not Use) their Devices - my children, and most of their friends, always have a smart phone, MP3 player or game console in their hands. Left on their own they would never turn them off. It's important for them to learn that there are places and occasions that require that they silence and put away their electronics, such as a restaurant, movie or a public location or event. Unfortunately this is a behavior they won't learn from mimicking adults around them. I've witnessed an adult in a doctor's waiting room playing angry birds so loudly they impaired the hearing of all the children in the room, and have been embarrassed for a man at a funeral who forgot to silence his phone, only to have his “Tequila" ring tone go off during the mass. While there are times that having them use their devices may actually keep them from misbehaving, help them by defining where you think it is appropriate and where it is off limits.
Being a good guest - I always try to stress to my children that when they are over a friend's house for dinner or as an overnight guest, that they obey the rules of their friends’ parents. Whether that means going to bed at 7:30 or taking out the garbage after dinner, they should politely comply with a smile on their face. And while I have told my children many times that, as hosts, we try to accommodate any of our guests’ wishes, in the reverse they should not try to use that to their advantage. I have been somewhat surprised by how many children in my home, have refused to wait their turn, or made unreasonable requests because “they are a guest. " Simply put, I ask them to behave in a way that would get them invited back not only by their friends, but by their friends’ parents.
Waiting your turn - I'm not necessarily only referring to waiting your turn while playing a game. More importantly in this modern age where everything we want can be ordered online for immediate download, or we receive a text response to a question in seconds, people have forgotten how to wait. In lines at school, at the store, even in a place like church, I see people cutting lines, and trying to jostle their way ahead of people who have politely waited longer. Teach your kids to ask if there is a line, where the end is, or if someone in front of them has already been helped.
Sending timely Thank You's - with all the technology we have today, letting people know that you appreciated a gift or a visit, can be as simple as texting a message after the event to say thanks for coming, or how much you enjoyed their thoughtfulness. Showing your appreciation doesn't have to be a painful or long writing process. And if we make it a little simpler, it may get done quickly and with some real feeling.
Eating, well, like a human - with all our over-scheduled activities, my kids are more likely to recognize food in a paper bag than that set at a table. But learning some simple rules about which utensils to use (move from farthest away from plate to closest, ) or to put your napkin in your lap at the beginning of a meal, or simply not to talk with their mouth full, can help avoid much embarrassment, for you and them, when they are placed in a more formal setting.
This is clearly not intended to be a complete list of all the etiquette do's and don'ts we want to instill in our children. But it has helped me teach my children some simple guidelines to become more sympathetic, polite adults in the future. And if I saw just a few more examples of this behavior in my adult interactions, how much more enjoyable my day would be.
About Author : C. J. Mackey is a working mother of three, balancing a full time career while taking an active role in her children's lives. She has an advanced degree in engineering and over twenty years making technology decisions for fortune 500 companies. She has always been passionate about writing and started contributing to Yahoo! Voices in December 2010. For more professional information you can visit at http://cjmackeypress.com/