Children are often impulsive and unreserved, blurt out anything that comes to mind and behave recklessly. What is acceptable in one situation can often result in hurt feelings, embarrassment or offence in another. Children need to learn when and how to demonstrate appropriate behaviour. However, teaching manners to children does not have to be painful. On the contrary, lessons in etiquette can be fun when incorporated into daily play.
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Use made-up scenarios to teach proper telephone etiquette to older children. Place several pieces of paper into a bowl, each with a name and subject on it. Have your child choose one at random and act it out. Using a telephone prop will make it fun. Be sure to stress the importance of using a clear voice and speaking at an appropriate volume. Use your mobile phone to place a call to your home line and allow your child to answer it. Ask him to take a message or provide some information. Disguise your voice while carrying on a conversation to make the lesson more exciting.
Ask your child to help you wrap up several items to look like gifts and take turns acting as the gift giver and receiver. In one scenario, let your child open a gift she would find unappealing. Be sure to stress the importance of graciously receiving such a gift and thanking the giver. In another scenario, the child should present you with a gift and use phrases like, "you're welcome" or "you deserve it." Make this activity fun by wrapping up household items that would make silly gifts. This will help children learn to accept any gift graciously.
Play Date Etiquette
Use charades to teach the importance of playing nicely and sharing toys. With your child seated before you, use body movements to demonstrate the act of sharing. Place a toy in your child's hand while offering an obvious smile. Let him play with the toy for a few moments, and then reach for it. Maintain a smile and gently take the toy from his grasp. Pretend to play with it for a few moments, all the while smiling brightly. To demonstrate the act of refusing to share, begin the charade by placing the toy in your child's grasp. While wearing an obvious frown, pull the toy away from him and quickly turn your back. Wave the toy in front of him, but do not let him play with it, always maintaining a frown. Reverse roles and see if your child can perform the charade for you.
Use the kitchen table to teach your child about place settings and the appropriate use of her napkin and silverware. For small children, use only one utensil, plate and cup. Make it fun by reciting a nursery rhyme that involves table items, such as "Hey Diddle Diddle." Make a game out of counting and categorising the silverware. Teach an older child the difference between a salad fork and a dessert fork and how to properly place a napkin in her lap. As an imaginative way to teach children to set and clear the table, pretend to be servers in a restaurant.
Create a make-believe restaurant and use role-playing to teach your child how to sit properly and order a meal. Pretend you are the server by leading the child to his seat, handing him a menu and taking his order. Teach your child to sit on his bottom with his feet on the floor. Stress the importance of using an indoor voice, while clearly speaking his order. Offer a small treat or sticker for each use of "please" and "thank you."
Use dolls to teach the importance of a proper introduction and greeting. Line up several dolls or stuffed animals in front of your child. Begin with a first-time introduction. Your child should offer the doll a greeting and a handshake. It is always polite to smile and make eye contact. Practice greetings for different social situations and explain the appropriate use for each. For example, family members might receive a kiss and hug, while strangers get a handshake. Stress the importance of speaking clearly at an appropriate volume.
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