Help Children Practice Good Manners


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Though most parents strive to teach children niceties like "please" and "thank you," good manners don't begin and end with these magic words. What about the tot who squirms at the dinner table and jumps up after two minutes? Or the grade-schooler who runs wild at friends' homes? How about the teen who avoids introductions?

If you're raising a manners-challenged child, you're not alone. Childhood manners mishaps are as common as children themselves, says etiquette coach Chris J. Rock. The good news: Childhood and the teenage years is the time to learn and practice appropriate behavior, and mistakes are to be expected. Even better, swift etiquette intervention can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of civility.

Here is our age-by-age guide on helping kids mind their manners.

Ages 0-5    Establish expectations

The golden rule — treat others as you'd like to be treated — forms the basis of all etiquette, Rock says. So how soon should parents start teaching children manners?

"You can't start them too young," she says. "There is no certain age when the magic begins."

That means establishing family behavior norms early. If you don't want your children to run indoors, traipse through airplane rows or jump on furniture, correct these behaviors in toddlerhood with a firm, gentle reminder: "That is not how we act in this family. It doesn't matter what other children do." Toddlers have notoriously short memories, so catchy songs can help etiquette lessons stick, Rock says. "We sing 'Yes is better than yeah' with our grandchildren."

Teaching table manners also can start early. Rock recommends introducing flatware as soon as children can hold it (often in late infancy or early toddlerhood), discouraging eating with the hands and gently stretching the time tots can sit still during meals. Start with just four or five minutes and build to 15 or 20. Children as young as 2 can be taught to ask their host — in most cases, Mom or Dad — to be excused from the table when they are finished.

Ages 6-10   Show respect

The grade-school years bring more friend visits and sleepovers — potential manners minefields, since kids will be away from parents' watchful eyes. Teaching children to be respectful guests in friends' homes can build confidence when children are developing their social identity (and may increase the odds of a repeat invitation).

Before the play date, remind children that being a guest means respecting their host's household rules. If the host family removes shoes at the door or doesn't allow snacking in bedrooms, guests should comply.

To show respect, ask children to address their friend's parents as "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" unless directed by the parents to do otherwise.

Ages 11-18   Practice introductions

Want your tween or teen to make a good impression? Teach proper introduction skills, a habit that pays lifelong dividends. To start, insist that children learn to introduce themselves with confidence and greet new acquaintances with eye contact and a firm handshake.

"It's important for parents to know introduction protocol themselves so they can model correctly," Rock says. For example, when introducing two parties, the senior or more important person's name is said first. Likewise, when introducing two friends, use equal terms for both; never use the first and last name for one and just the first name for the other.

Polish introduction prowess by encouraging tweens and teens to introduce you and others at social gatherings and in group settings. Soon, they'll be ready to take on the world — civilly, of course.

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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
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