Here we are on the cusp of the holiday season! Parties and formal dinners are on the calendar…and you’re frantically Googling: Proper Manners for Kids.
Etiquette is so important. In fact, one woman (from Florida) made it her business. Myka Meier, founder of NYC-based Beaumont Etiquette, is a consultant specializing in social, dining and business protocol…and manners for kids. Myka studied at multiple traditional etiquette schools in the UK. She also trained in London under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen.
She has a few tips for us Boca parents on how to start encouraging proper manners for kids this holiday season and beyond…
With the holidays imminent, how can parents help to teach and encourage manners for their children?
- Make sure you explain WHY we do the things we do which equate to “good manners for kids”. “We are bringing a gift to Sarah’s house as a thank you for inviting us to her holiday party. It will show her that we’re grateful to be included.”
- Talk about your “manners” expectations before you arrive to any event i.e. “We are about to go into a church/temple. You will be expected to sit very still and quiet until I tell you otherwise, as it will show that we are respectful and listening, which is very important today.”
- If you’re at a holiday event, restaurant or private home and you have a small child that you need to ensure is listening, I recommend saying “I have something important to tell you. If you are listening, please touch your ear to show me you are paying attention.” Once you have their attention, then you can explain what to do next i.e. “We are about to go into the other room where we will be seated for dinner. Please follow me and do exactly as I do.”
- Reward good manners for kids with a verbal accolade i.e. “You made me so proud today when you sat quietly in the restaurant.”
How young is too young to start?
I think you can begin teaching etiquette to children as soon as they begin speaking. Start by teaching them ‘please and thank you’ when they ask for something. When the child is old enough to sit at the dinner table (even in a high chair), you can start teaching dining etiquette.
I encourage family meals, so they understand from an early age what manners are expected from them during a meal. I teach children that good manners for kids simply means to be kind, thoughtful and respectful at all times…all lessons that can start very young.
I heard this is a common fear among your clients who are parents. What does one do when their child points out something “different” about another person and they hear them?
My best advice is DON’T ignore the situation or run off just because you are embarrassed. Instead, address the person whom your child may have offended.
For instance, a child pointing out a disability: In this case, do not be dramatic and understand your child is still learning about the world around them. In front of the child, offer a sincere apology and calmly say to the person who was offended, “Please excuse us – we are still learning what makes people different and that all people are special because of that.”
How can parents themselves set a proper example?
I think it’s important to remember that you cannot get upset with your child for doing something wrong…if you do the same thing, If you don’t want your child to curse, then don’t do it in front of them.
I also think parents should educate themselves in etiquette so that they can make sure they are training their children properly. I teach “Mommy-and-Me” style etiquette courses to children ages 5+ where parents are in class with the child and they are learning together. This way mom and dad can observe and correct manners for kids at home too.
Did you have children in mind when you started your company, Beaumont Etiquette?
Absolutely! Teaching children etiquette and good manners is crucial to their success. If they learn as children, it will be second nature throughout life.
I created programs for children that are practical and teach them skill sets they can use every day…from how to make new friends and confidence when speaking with eye contact and body language to how to set the table and which fork to use at dinner.
What kind of classes do you offer children in New York City?
I offer children (ages 5-11) a two hour course and young adults (ages 12-17) a four hour course. Each session is private and customized by the parent. Topics range from dining etiquette to social skills workshops. I also travel around the US teaching etiquette and wonderfully enough, will be in the Boca Raton area the first week of February 2016, taking bookings now for both private and group youth etiquette classes!
All course information and pricing can be found here: http://www.beaumontetiquette.com/courses/
What’s your #1 piece of advice to parents when they encounter…for lack of a better description…a “manners breakdown” with their kids this season?
My advice is not to ignore it and address it immediately each time it happens. Take the time to explain why it was incorrect and use emotive descriptions (teaching compassion) to help them understand how their actions affect others.
For instance, yelling or misbehaving at a restaurant: (Especially for little ones) I would take the child out of the restaurant so everyone else can enjoy their meal and explain “When you did XYZ, you made everyone else in the restaurant feel unhappy and we don’t ever want to make people feel that way.”
Including mommy. 🙂 Thank you Myka! I appreciate even more now that it’s never too early to start working on manners for kids.
LIKE Beaumont Etiquette on Facebook HERE.
Visit www.beaumontetiquette.com for more information.
About Your Trainer:
A dual American and British citizen, Myka Meier is a consultant specializing in social, dining and business protocol. Myka studied at multiple traditional etiquette schools in the United Kingdom and trained in London under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen. Furthermore, Myka attended the prestigious Institut Villa Pierrefeu finishing school in Montreux, Switzerland and has been formally trained in both Continental European, British and American etiquette. Myka has worked with members of the British Royal family and had two years experience working on a global endeavor initiated by its patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Myka instructs private and group training for adults and children and has been featured across international media including Good Morning America, NY Observer, ABC World News and People Magazine.