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Fail to teach children manners and fail them.

We all want to give our children—and ourselves—
the best tools we can in order to achieve success
in life, whether it is in business or with relationships.

”Gimme THAT!”
. . . hollers a three-year-old from her perch in the grocery cart. “I don’t want this kind,” a six-year-old states as he unhappily chooses a lollipop from the reward bag his teacher has just handed him. “I was going to invite my friend Jordan, but he couldn’t make it, so I had to invite you,” laments an eleven-year-old boy to a classmate, as he chews an enormous bite of a sandwich—with his mouth open.

“I don’t want to prepare her for a cotillion, maybe I could just get her to look up at me and stop ‘texting’ for a moment, when I ask her about her day?” says the dad of sixth-grader Zoe.

People are mourning the loss of etiquette. “Children’s manners” is a top google search for frustrated parents. Most parents would like their children to be well-mannered and they themselves would like to be treated with dignity and respect—maybe even a little deference.

"Children are more receptive to etiquette instruction when it comes from a non-parental figure." —International School of Protocol

In today's competitive society, those with well-developed social skills have a tangible advantage in virtually every aspect of their lives. These skills empower individuals to feel comfortable with themselves and others, to communicate more effectively, and to set a leadership example in school, work opportunities, or in any social situation, promoting personal growth, confidence and character.

While academics are essential to everyone’s future, similar studies by Harvard University, Stanford Research Institute and The Carnegie Foundation indicate that over 85% of one’s career success is directly connected to one’s social skills.

Proper table manners, pleasant conversational skills, appropriate dress and the use of tact are social graces that make interacting with others agreeable. Etiquette rules that embrace the goals of respecting and valuing others and putting others at ease make living side-by-side easier. It is hard to argue the merit of good etiquette.

Without proper manners training, children will run into awkward situations as they mature that will probably limit their options for success. We want our kids to be participatory members of a thriving and exciting, civil society. The last thing that parents want for their children is to send them out into the world without the tools they need in order to succeed.



Kids are Kids
. . . and they are expected to say, and do, outrageous things from time to time. The days of “children should be seen and not heard” are long gone. However, children need to be taught to place their napkins in their laps and to be aware that they are members of a large global society. As the credit card commercial says, “Membership has its privileges.” Membership also has its responsibilities, the biggest responsibility is valuing the other members.

Where have (all the) good manners gone?
If kids aren’t displaying good manners, it is not a stretch to assume that we aren’t all properly equipped to teach children who are uninterested in learning. Most of us find our own children uninterested in learning anything from us. The problem is then, instructors, teachers, coaches, admissions officers and bosses don’t have the time for bad or boorish behavior, and they quickly pass over a child that clearly does not possess the ability to behave appropriately in the given situation. Sadly, ill-mannered children, teenagers and young adults never have a chance; bad behavior, and the consequences of that behavior, reduce their opportunities significantly.

Why aren’t parents teaching manners . . .
. . . if they would like their children to use good manners, and they know that their children must exhibit good manners to succeed?

It does seem, from conversations I’ve had with many parents, that we are not too keen on being the “bad guys” to our children. We want our children to have manners, but cringe at correcting their bad behavior. “I hate to come home from work after not seeing my kids all day and have to start disciplining their behavior; I would rather just enjoy being with them.”

Other parents didn’t receive manners training themselves, so teaching manners to their children is not an option. “I feel at a huge disadvantage. I wasn’t taught manners as a child and I am very uncomfortable in certain social situations and sometimes struggle in business social settings. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I don’t even know where to begin teaching him a better way to behave.”

Social Trends
Maybe the trend away from good manners is a consequence of high divorce rates, increasing single parent homes, the great number of two working parents, political correctness, video games, the Media, the Internet, the “pornification” of society . . . or maybe a combination of the list? But is the question even relevant? None of these “possible causes” are going away any time soon.

So it becomes our job as parents to accept the culture as it is today, and teach our children good manners anyway. Arming our children with manners and values allows them the opportunity to make good choices when faced with the curve balls life will inevitably throw at them.

Respecting and valuing others, developing high integrity and making others feel at ease, are probably the key reasons that society practices good manners. Manners put us at ease with those people that we know. Manners make us feel more comfortable around complete strangers.

It would be anxiety-provoking, to say the least, if there were no rules of social etiquette. What if, when browsing through a dress rack at the mall, it was perfectly acceptable for the stranger browsing alongside us, coveting the discounted blouse we got to first, to pop us one in the jaw and wrestle us to the floor for the garment? How often would we go to the mall?

It is okay that social standards have relaxed over the past seventy-five years. Rigidity and strict rules don’t fit today’s world. Pinafores, cotillions, white gloves, dessert spoons and pillbox hats seem out of place in most social circles. But the basic tenets of etiquette still hold strong and true.
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