This post originally appeared at my parenting blog The Gift of Good Manners. I will be cross posting some of my favorite content from that blog here at the Etiquette Daily. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I love talking with kids about manners and etiquette. The biggest challenge is getting started. One way to get them talking is to pose a question and ask them for their ideas. I would never start with, “Hey, let’s talk about manners today.” Any kid I know would blanch. However, I might ask:
So you are caught at the dining room table at a family dinner with your crazy Aunt Ellie who is boring you to death with the same stories she tells year after year. What would you do…?
There is not a specific right answer. The point of the conversation is to get to a response that focuses on how you show respect or kindness to Aunt Ellie. Perhaps this is the one time a year she gets to see everyone and she loves to tell the story about … whatever. She doesn’t remember that she told it before, but she knows it is an important story in her life and she wants to share it. So maybe the answer is that you just grin and listen. After all, it’s just a short time in your life and it means so much to her. After lunch you and your siblings might talk about who got to hear Aunt Ellie’s story this year. Were there any differences? How did you respond? Then, how did she respond?
Maybe this scenario never happened to you or your family. Still it is a way to talk about respecting others in a different generation. This leads to a talk about the principles of etiquette. How do we show respect? Kids like to talk about these things.
I have many, many “What would you do?” cards that I use at talks I do with kids just to get them talking back. They are always popular and never fail to start a discussion. I will share others throughout this year. Or, think up your own. The point never is a specific answer. The point is to think through how you might respond in a way that builds or strengthens the relationship at hand. The idea to get kids thinking and talking about respect, consideration, honesty, and kindness and how these basic principles can bring us to a more positive place.
Happy conversations! And please let me know if you come up with some good scenarios I can use. Thanks!