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Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D. is Emily Post’s great-granddaughter, and educator and author of numerous books on children and manners. Read more »
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The holidays are coming. Decorations are popping up everywhere. Holiday music is playing in stores. People are planning turkey dinners. Families will be traveling to visit families. Parents may be stressing. And kids are beside themselves with excitement!
Parents ask me, "What can we do? The kids are wild, and we've left table manners by the wayside. Is it too late?" No, it's not too late to spruce up the manners you want your children to know before the craziness sets in. You can help them by practicing a few days before Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Make time to talk with your kids about manners too. Ask them why manners are important and which ones they think make the most sense. Help them understand this isn't about "rules," it's really about how we get along with each other. The goal is to make this a positive experience and then to enjoy the holidays. Let's get started!
Practice setting a simple table setting with your child: fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right (knife next to the plate), glass on the right above the knife and spoon. (Ask your kids for suggestions for table decorations.)
Explain the basics:
Greetings and Handshakes
Kids can practice with siblings, neighbors, dolls and stuffed animals!
Greetings - The most important thing for them to do is to look the person in the eye and SMILE! They should also:
Handshakes - In the olden days, knights extended a hand to show it did not hold a weapon. The other person responded showing he didn't have a weapon either. Today, kids should simply remember:
Gifts You Don't Wrap
Some of the best things we can give at the holidays can't be wrapped. By talking with your children about this concept, you'll raise their consciousness about these special gifts: kindness, consideration and helping out.
Giving and Receiving Gifts
Help your kids learn the gracious art of gift giving and receiving.
Gift Giving - In order to help your kids learn the joy of giving, involve them in gift shopping or making the gifts they'll give. Then practice these interactions:
If they don't like the gift, teach them to find something positive to say, to say it, and then to say "Thank you." For example, "This shirt is the best color blue. Thank you so much."
I hope these tips will help you and your child. And remember, good manners are a gift that will last a lifetime!
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