When kids have good manners, society benefits for years to come, says Kelly Frager, a childrens etiquette instructor in Mount Airy, Md. (pop 6,425).
Here are suggestions from several etiquette and behavior experts for getting kids to mind their manners:
Start at home. Mealtime is the most important occasion for teaching manners, says Lisa Taylor Richey, founder of the American Academy of Etiquette in Wayne, Pa. At mealtime, children can learn table manners as well as conversation skills.
Be a manners model. Parents must do more than teach, says Corinne Gregory, founder of Social Smarts in Bellevue, Wash. Do as I say, not as I do doesnt work.
Practice makes perfect. Walk your child through scenarios beforehand. Is your high school son going on a date? Practice shaking the parents hands, making eye contact and saying nice to meet you, Frager advises.
Explain why. Manners are about honoring one another, says author Mimi Meredith, of Phoenix. Say things like, Didnt you feel special when Grandmother looked you in the eyes and listened to your story without interrupting? she suggests.
Set specific expectations. For example, before a birthday party, discuss what proper host behavior entails, Frager says.
Dont reward rudeness. Many parents reward rude behavior because theyre tired or worn down, says psychotherapist Susan Pease Banitt, of Portland, Ore. If you give in, children learn this is the way to get what they want.
Teach the Golden Ruleto treat others the way that you would like to be treated. If you cant remember specifics, advises Gregory, remember that good manners never violate the Golden Rule.