Monday, May 25, 2015

The Lost Art - Etiquette

Everybody tells you that manners are important. Parents stress out over their children using please and thank you. The constant reminding "say thank you" that parents often do. We all use manners in formal circumstances when we should, and we try to teach our children to do that too.

Manners can be easily taught (for most kids, I would guess) simply by example. Saying 'thank you' to a child when she hands you a toy, or something, is a great way of modelling times when thank you is appropriate. They pick up on that very quickly. Even saying 'you're welcome' when they say thank you also gets picked up quickly, and they sometimes will even say "thank you, you're welcome" in a unit after that. It is TOTALLY adorable. Nothing beats a little kid who says thank you. Or "tank you". 

However, there is an entire piece of this "manners" puzzle that is missing to create a whole well rounded person people admire and love to be around. That is etiquette. People don't really think about etiquette anymore. I don't know if we're just too lazy, or if we don't think it is important, or what. 

I recently went to a homeschool conference and I went to a couple of classes about etiquette, about helping our boys to be gentlemen and our girls to be ladies. We all think our kids are pretty special, but the difference between a boy who just opens and walks through a door, and a boy who opens the door for someone else is really HUGE. 

The things I learned were amazing and stuff that I value and know are important, but I hadn't really thought about. Where I live, it isn't like there are tons of opportunities for fancy dinners or parties or something. Weddings are even a certain form of casual, and people don't judge others by things like that. However, again, think about walking in a door behind someone who just walks in, or someone who stops and holds it FOR you. (Yes, I know, there are women these days who take offense to that, but they are in the minority. It is not insulting for someone to open a door for you. They are not thinking you aren't capable of doing it yourself, that is not what it's about.)

One other characteristic is standing at a table until the ladies are seated. This one blew me away because though I hadn't really categorized it that way, I know it upsets me when my boys are at the table eating and I'm still bouncing around the kitchen trying to get drinks or the baby's dinner ready or something. It really feels upsetting to me that they are eating without me, with no consideration to what I am doing. Hearing that little piece of etiquette used as an example of something a gentleman would do was really eye opening for me!

I don't like asking people to buy things, and I don't really like pushing products on people. Even when I was an Usborne Books consultant, I had a hard time telling people they should buy things. I know it is hard for me to buy things like that. But I really think that everyone should do something over the summer: start introducing and teaching your kids real etiquette, and maybe learn something yourself along the way.

You may think that you will never find yourself in a place where you need to know a proper formal place setting. But what about your children? What if they get to a place in their life where they have to have a fancy dinner party? What if they have a job where they have to attend business dinners? Wouldn't it benefit them to know how to deal with all the formal table settings, instead of being embarrassed because they don't know which is what and why there are so many silverware by their plate? It wouldn't reflect on them very well if they were awkward or using the wrong table manners in a business dinner.

The ones who succeed are the ones who have great manners. 

So, I want to share with you The Etiquette Factory! I loved listening to Monica Irvine! Learning about etiquette from a southern lady with a beautiful southern accent? Priceless! I know that this is something we will be working on this summer! 

So, I invite you to visit this link :
The Etiquette Factory

There is a lot of info there on the website, and you'll quickly see this is more than 'please', 'thank you', and table setting. This is about being the kind of person who is respectful and considerate. It is about teaching kids to be respectful and accountable for their actions. This is about preventing bullying because a lady or gentleman would never do things that would bully, abuse or take advantage of others. This is the kind of thing you WANT for your kids and yourself, and I believe in only supporting a product when you really believe that it is important.

After her class, I spoke to her about etiquette and autism. I explained that I have autism, and so does my son, and that some things, especially when it comes to things like eye contact, are a struggle. I can do it, as an adult, because I've trained myself to, and I literally tell myself to every time I talk to someone. But how do I teach my kid to do that? Her response was that you keep trying. 

There is a Life Skills section on the website. Those are a short video, and then some questions and discussion you can have. They show examples of etiquette situations, one that is incorrect and one that is correct. This was highly recommended for us with autism because if you can see the difference between proper and improper etiquette, then it is easier for it to click. It is obvious from the outside that someone who doesn't stand up to greet his grandmother, and instead keeps reading or using their computer or phone is not following proper etiquette. But seeing him stand up and greet her is much more appropriate. This is a great product and it is the one we will be using this summer!

Anyway, I think I may have said enough. I highly recommend this program, and it is something to think about and consider. Summer is the perfect time to take something like this on, because you may be able to travel and go to a fancy restaurant and practice, or even at a more formal wedding or something. School isn't a distraction, and you have more time to do it. So go for it! 

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