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Teach Kids Holiday Manners

5 Tips For Teaching Kids Good Holiday Manners

With the holiday season upon us, it's certain our children's manners will come under the spotlight. Your son may burp too loudly at the dinner table, your daughter might refuse to hug her relatives, or your little ones may rip through their gifts without saying "thank you." The last thing you want is to receive judgmental glares from Grandma, so it's important to take some preemptive steps to avoid etiquette snafus during the holiday season. From table manners to thank-you notes, Circle of Moms members offer this etiquette primer for the holidays.

1. Set Expectations Ahead of Time

No one wants the relatives to conclude that their child is a brat, and many Circle of Moms members say that the best way to preempt this is to stop bad manners before they start by establishing rules for behavior and good manners ahead of time. To prepare your kids for a visit to relatives' homes, Wendy M. suggests telling your children in advance that they must be relatively quiet and remain in their seats and that "they will be expected to behave." If they've been prepared beforehand, she explains, "a reprimand for acting out won't be a surprise." And don't forget to praise them "for a job well done" if they are well behaved.

Amy agrees that it works best to teach table manners before family gatherings. She suggests explaining to them that at other people's houses there are more limits: "You have to stay in your seat, sitting, not standing or sliding under. No yelling, respect others, and there is prayer time before the meal." Likewise, Ninouska D. recommends warning ahead of time that there will be consequences for improper behavior.

2. Focus on the Manners Most Important to You

Amid the holiday season's many family meals, visiting relatives, and gift exchanges lies an opportunity to teach kids the most critical of good manners. Candi focuses on teaching her kids to listen politely and not interrupt when others are speaking. Daphe J. works hard to train her kids about gift acceptance etiquette, specifically by saying "thank you" for each one received. Lexi wants her children to learn to be respectful to all those visiting adult relatives. "Disrespect is just not tolerated in my home. We do not allow children to address adults by their first name unless some sort of title is used first (Mr., Miss, Mrs., Coach, etc.)," she says.

3. Offer Incentives and Disincentives

Moms sometimes have to be creative to coax or inspire good manners. Amber B. offers incentives for good holiday behavior, a proven tactic she borrowed from her mom. "My mother was strict about us having impeccable table manners," she explains. "However, on Sunday nights we were allowed to watch TV while eating dinner. Perhaps if you have one or two nights a week where your children can have fun (a carpet picnic, watching TV) and they know they can just be themselves, then maybe it will be easier to enforce the table manners on the rest of the days." Kathryn J., on the other hand, has created a "swear/fart jar" to keep her kids from belching and swearing at the dinner table (or anywhere, for that matter). "If anyone uses a slang/swear word, money is paid in the jar. If anyone farts anywhere other than in the bathroom, then they pay too," she says.

4. Teach Gratitude

There's nothing more cringe-inducing to in-laws than seeing kids who are old enough to know better ripping up gifts and tossing them aside without saying "thank you." Emphasize the importance of saying "thank you" after opening gifts, and encourage your children to write thank-you notes once the holidays have passed.

5. Lead by Example

If you want your kids to behave, it's critical to be a good role model. "Your children learn from you," says Kim W. "If you show that you are grateful, then the act will pass itself along to your children." As an example, she suggests making sure your children see that you always say "thank you" and "you're welcome" to others.

What are your family's rules for good holiday manners?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Image Source: Flickr user courosa
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AnaLevakSabolovic AnaLevakSabolovic 1 year

Every year I grow more and more appalled at this travesty Christmas has turned into in western society, this mad race that has people scrambling to spend money they can't afford to buy people meaningless junk they don't want, and now as if it wasn't enough that we adults have to pretend to be oh-so-thankful for unwanted gifts, now we should teach our kids that they must do the same? I'm sorry, but I find this all disgusting. We are not religious, but I think Jesus would be horrified by what his birth has come to represent. For my family Christmas is about getting together, seeing people you haven't seen in a long time, catching up, and simply being together. We have an understanding that adults don't exchange gifts, and we don't want to bury our kids either in tons of junk that they will play with for two minutes, if that, and then it will just sit around taking up space until it gets dumped at the landfill. Our kids get one present for the holidays, they get it from their parents, and this is something they need or have wanted for a long time. Other family members are encouraged to bring cash, which we then deposit into the kids' savings account, or if they don't like that idea, they can bring something really small and inexpensive, like some candy or a pair of socks or gloves. Nobody expects the kids to act like it's such a big deal, because it isn't, and nobody gets offended. While I don't encourage my kids to act like pigs at the table, and they don't, nobody in our family would frown upon on an accidental burp or some small gaffe like that, and if we had a person in our family who would, this person certainly wouldn't be invited to my Christmas table. Instead of being a time for peace and joy, we have turned the Christmas holidays into a time of incessant stress over gifts, food, decorations, and everything else, and now as if it wasn't enough that we're stressed out, we want to dump some stress on our kids too with silly and unnecessary expectations from them. I think it's all very sad.

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