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Debate About Etiquette Classes for Children

Tell Mommy: Should We Reinstate Etiquette Classes For Tikes?

There was a time, not so long ago, when etiquette was not only taught at home, but in classes outside of school. Parents sent their lil ones to seminars to learn about proper salutations, placement of eating utensils and everyday social graces. A dining experience at a restaurant recently made me wonder if our generation of parents should seek out such classes for our kids. As I watched tots of all ages running around the restaurant — some throwing food to get their parents' attention — I could only imagine what Emily Post would have said if she were alive to have witnessed the scene.

A colleague recently told me about the etiquette classes her grandmother sent her to at Lord and Taylor as a child. She learned the proper placement of silverware at the table, where to put her napkin at different points in the meal and how to excuse herself from the table. While she may have learned these nuggets at 12, she carries them with her today and tries to instill them in her preschool-aged son on a daily basis. While he still has his moments where he is almost swinging from the rafters, he knows that noodles must be eaten with a fork, rather than his fingers.

Aimee Symington recently introduced an etiquette board game, Blunders, to teach manners and polite behavior in a fun and exciting way. Would you buy it or send your child to etiquette class?


Join The Conversation
sham28 sham28 8 years
kia, your "class" sounds like it was fun :)
sham28 sham28 8 years
I'm 22 and frequently embarassed by th lack of manners in my age group, whether it's ordering food with "can I get a...?" or swearing around kids or letting doors hit people behind them in the face. I was sent to a cotillion class and while I think that was unnecessary and I didn't end up needing dance steps and white gloves, the manners my parents taught me have stuck with me forever, and I'm eternally grateful.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
lickity - i love the "princess manners" thing...a good tool to help your kids (girls, i guess) remember to act polite in certain situations
starbucks2 starbucks2 8 years
I really am not to worried about the napkin thing. But it drives absolutely crazy how people my age don't even know how to properly use their utensils, chew with their mouths open and won't wait for everyone to be seated until the start the meal. It's not about being stiff, it's just about being respectful to those eating with you. I guess a big problem really is, that so many families don't have sit-down dinners anymore. I'm teaching my boyfriend about etiquette right now so he won't pass on his bad habits to our baby.
Kiki_in_KY Kiki_in_KY 8 years
I don't know why anyone would NOT want their children to learn how to be gracious and polite. Society focuses on teaching assertiveness and self-confidence, which is great, but that must be tempered with civility and courtesy. Etiquette is as much about restraint and respect as anything else and I am all for children learning about that.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
I never went to a proper etiquette school. But I did spend summers at my Grandma's which I today call my etiquette school. I learned proper manners from my Grandparents. I thank them for that. I know my husband and I feel very strongly about raising our child with respect and having her know what it's all about and especially how to act and behave like a lady. It makes me sick seeing the generation under me how they act and feel so privileged to everything, what are their parents even teaching them how are they even preparing them for the real world. Just so I don't offend anyone I'm speaking about a general group of people I know that many parents are trying their best to raise their children right.
Advah Advah 8 years
Depends - I'm not really into the "how to formally use your napkin" type of etiquette. However I do remember my parents making sure we would put both our hands on the table while eating, instead of for instance having one in your lap, or reminding us to stand straight or not chew with our mouth open. At the time, the "both hands on the table" thing used to drive me nuts, and when I asked why they did that they always said "if one day you have to go to a fancy dinner for your work or whatever reason, it's good to know that kind of things". And I'm SO glad they gave us these habits (plus, it's good for your posture!)! I now feel very comfortable in social situations, and am shocked at the number of people who can't eat without their fingers, closing their mouth (EWW) or not making gross noises. You'd think people would understand on their own that slurping your soup is disgusting for the people around, but apparently they don't. :oy: So yeah, that was a long post but I'm all of teaching kids social behaviour.
ally14 ally14 8 years
It's definitely something I'd want for my future kids; too many kids nowadays forget their manners. I think it's good to have some standards and some structure to a dinner.
Angelica Angelica 8 years
I am all for it if it's presented in a gender neutral, forward-thinking way that's not focused teaching women the basics of being "a good girl". Good table manners and social graces are important skills no matter who you are or where you live and sometimes, kids need the extra lessons. Children learn how to behave in school and through parents, why not hold social behavior on the same platform?
jul3z jul3z 8 years
I actually had studied that kind of stuff when I was in Girl Guides. I think that was excellent, I certainly plan on passing along what I learned.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
my girls have gone to these. here's the thing, when they HAVE to use their princess manners they will. otherwise forget it. they offered these as an after school program, the woman running them teaches business professionals the same type of thing, has written books on it, yadda-yadda-yadda. most of the kids in my daughter's then 2nd grade took the class and did just fine. but to see these kids at lunch, you would NEVER know it. it's not important to kid culture. when the peer thing kicks in at about age 12, that will all change.
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
I think it's a great idea! It drives me nuts to be out in public and see kids with absolutely no manners. In my opinion, these classes could start with the very basics and then work up to a more advanced class about setting the table, etc.
pinkerbell03 pinkerbell03 8 years
I would absolutely send my kids to those classes! My husband and I talk about this all the time, the majority of kids we see when we're out and about running errands, have zero manners. Chewing gum like they're a cow, coughing/sneezing w/out covering their faces, being incredibly disrespectful to their parents, etc. But I also wish some adults would take the classes as well, I see "grown-ups" doing the same things. I feel so old-fashioned when I have to remind someone to chew w/ their mouth closed, or cover their mouth when they cough...
kia kia 8 years
When I have kids I would not be opposed to sending them to an etiquette program. There are fun ones out there. I didn't learn a lot of proper etiquette until I was in my early 20s and my learning came from a very unlikely teacher, a fellow wildland firefighter that was bored when we were on mop-up duty. I have a sweet set of skills now that I can rely on in any given social situation.
kty kty 8 years
yes i do think it's a good idea,i'm doing my best to instill good manners to my son but i wouldn't mind if in pre-school they applied it too. it's not always easy with rambunctious ones like my son but i would really love for him to know them to a i love the idea
meandtheo meandtheo 8 years
my husband and i were just having this conversation this past started because we noticed the same thing while dining out; and i thought maybe because children have less sit down dinners with their families they miss out on etiquette. well yes, i think it is very important that children (and teens, adults, etc..) have good etiquette, i don't think i would go as far as to send them to a class but i know my MIL and myself will be teaching my children proper dining techniques and expect them to be used at all time while eating.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i think it is a good idea for children to be taught good etiquette. i feel like my etiquette is pretty good but in terms of small things like "where to place my napkin at certain times during a meal" i probably still make technical mistakes i think at this point, i would value having taken something like this when i was a kid and i would like my future children to know proper etiquette, as well the board game is a cool idea too!
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