Posts Tagged ‘children’

Etiquette for Children and Teens, Part 2

Part two of a two-part series on etiquette for teens and children.

The second part of this series focuses on appropriate telephone etiquette, theater behavior, and table manners.

While telephone etiquette is always a matter of great importance, this topic would be rather lengthly if I included all scenarios.  Therefore, this article will focus on appropriate behavior when calling someone.  If I had a dime for every time a child called my home and asked, “Who is this?”, I’d be able to fill the tank of my van – even at today’s prices.  Whenever I am the victim of such bad manners, I have no problem taking the opportunity to teach the child something they may or may not have learned at home.  When calling a phone number that is shared by two or more people, the polite thing to do is to introduce oneself and ask for the person with whom you wish to speak.  For example, “Hello, this is Sarah.  Is Cindy available?  If so, may I speak with her?”  This approach works best for someone with whom the child is not familiar.  However, if the child knows the person who answered the telephone, an appropriate greeting would be, “Hello, Mr. Smith.  This is Jackie.  How are you?”, or some other pleasant chit-chat.  When the time is right, it is OK to then ask to speak with the primary person with whom you wish to speak.  Don’t forget to offer “please” and “thank you” for the time that the other person took to respond to your request.

The next topic of etiquette can result in flared tempers, because it requires having to approach someone publicly.  Movie theaters should be treated like libraries (quiet) and not living rooms, phone booths, raceways, or trash cans.  Before your next trip to the theater, go over these simple rules with your child or teen:

  • Do not kick the back of the chair in front of you.
  • Silence your cell phones, so as to not disturb others.  If your phone vibrates and you must take a call, take it outside of the theater.
  • Do not treat the aisles like runways by running up and down them, because you are bored.
  • Place your trash into receptacles generally located at various places near the exit.

Following these few simple rules will allow your fellow movie-goers to enjoy the film that they paid good money to see.  It’ll also likely keep you from being tossed from the theater.

Finally, teach your children that proper table manners are important.  Believe me, this is a constant battle in my home, so I know it’s not an easy one to win.  This advice will focus on dining etiquette when eating outside of the home, but there’s no place like home to practice.  As a former restaurant hostess, I’ve seen it all.  Parents who let their children empty condiment containers onto tables, treat restaurant workers disrespectfully, throw trash on the floor around and under the table, have loud conversations, and disrupt the peace of other diners by tugging on their hair or clothing from the other side of the booth were constant concerns.  Helping your children exhibit good dining behavior is quite simple.  When you see any of the above behaviors (or gasp) or something worse, address the immediately.  Don’t wait until the manager or an angry guest has to approach you.

Think about how you’d want to be treated when having a conversation, watching a movie, or dining outside of the home.  If you see your child behaving unpleasantly, do something.  Don’t sit back pretending not to see an issue and force others to do your parenting for you.

Have any stories of unbelievable bad behavior?  What did you do to address it?

Let’s chat!

CC

Other Resources

Rude Busters

Family Education: Manners for Kids (and Parents)

Etiquette for Children and Teens, Part 1

Part one of a two-part series on helping our children to overcome poor displays of etiquette.

We’ve all seen or witnessed it: unruly and out of control children at formal functions, kids who butt into conversations, or children who have a sense of entitlement for things often undeserved.  

So how can you help your underage rule-breakers? According to Cindy Post Senning, a descendent of etiquette expert, Emily Post, use of the Golden Rule of Parenting goes a long way in helping our children to model desired behaviors.  Senning says, “Always be the kind of person you want your kids to be”.  That’s right, the “Do as I say and not as I do” rule goes out the window!  If you want properly behaved children, you must exhibit proper behavior.  Don’t worry – if bad habits have already been formed, there’s hope.

Let’s break down three common etiquette offenses and explore ways to help our young ones to learn the art of good manners.

Conversation Butting – Unless the building is on fire or someone has been injured, it’s a good idea to teach your children at a very young age to have patience, because world does not revolve around them.  The urge for children to blurt out something and demand your attention while already engaged in conversation with someone else is a bad habit to break once already formed, but consistent training will get you (and your child) to your goal.  The next time, little Mary tugs at your arm while you’re having a conversation that does not involve her or continues to call out, “Mom, mommy, momma” or some other term like, “now!”, politely say, “Dear, I would be happy to speak with you as soon as I finish my discussion with Mrs. X”.  Repeat this each time Mary decides that she wants your immediate attention; she’ll get the message eventually.

Formal Function Meltdown – Events such as weddings, funerals, and awards banquets are the most formal events that many of us will ever attend during our lifetimes – unless you’re the recipient of an invitation to a dinner at the governor’s mansion or the White House.  If you plan to take very young children to such events, be sure to pack quiet and age-appropriate activities to help them pass the time – unless you want to be the victim of a formal function meltdown.

Most parents have found that coloring books work wonders with children ages 3-7.  For slightly older children, a chapter book, crossword puzzle, or word search can provide enough entertainment ’til the end of the stuffed-shirt event.  If video games are a must, don’t forget to pack the headphones as the other guests likely won’t want to hear your child’s favorite game.  Of course, these comfort items should be saved until the attention span of your young one is nearing an end.

You know your child better than anyone else, so if rewards work for good behavior, offer one ahead of time, so that they know how high the stakes are.  Don’t hand over the award until after the desired behavior has been achieved.  Otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up to provide a reward, while still getting poor behavior.  Not to mention, the behavior is likely to continue if a reward is given for without having to work for it.  This brings us to the next topic of poor etiquette…

Sense of Entitlement – As parents, it’s often difficult to not shower our children with love and material things, but if we’re not careful, we end up raising children who sincerely believe that they are entitled to pretty much anything they want.  Helping them to preface requests with “please” and respond with “thank you” will help them to understand that a certain level of respect is necessary (and honorable), whether or not they ultimately they get what they want.

During this time of year, graduates enjoy gifts the flow in from friends and family near and far.  Remind them to write Thank-You cards.  The lost are of writing thank-you notes can be resurrected amongst our children if we simply teach them that a gift is just that – a gift – and not an entitlement and a simple acknowledgement exhibits proper gift-receiving behavior.

One more note on entitlement, birthday party gifts should never be expected from invited guests.  Parties are not a tit for tat and your guests owe you (and your children) nothing other than an RSVP – even that’s debatable.

Look for part 2 of this 2-part series!

Thank-you note examples for young children (printable)

More thank-you note examples for children

Let’s chat!  Have you been offended by children behaving badly or are your children the offenders?  How have you handled situations of poor behavior?  Post questions, comments, or advice.

Valentine Presents for Children

Valentine’s Day is most widely celebrated by couples.  We plan dates, get gussied up, exchange gifts, and hire a sitter before going out to paint the town red.  But what about the children?

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children?  If so, what are your family’s traditions?  I usually bake red velvet cake or cupcakes or make strawberry shortcake for dessert.  I also prepare gift bags for each child.  The items in the gift bag need not be expensive; I just fill them with small stuffed animals, candy, and other gifts (the $1 bin at Target is full of great items).  I give gifts to the children, because I want them to know that they are also my Valentines.

But I have a dilemma this year: whether or not to continue giving them gifts, and if so, what?  They are now teens and tweens, so the desserts, stuffed animals and special Valentine’s trinkets don’t have the same effect.  I’ve thought about buying a small token, such as bracelets or flowers for the girls and cologne for boys.  Or maybe even books for all of them.  I’m at a loss, but I want to do something that will have a lasting impact. 

So, here’s the thing that makes the most sense.  Writing love letters to each of them.  Yes, love letters.  Something that they can cherish for a lifetime.  Something that I would make with lots of love.  Something that they can go back and read when life’s harsh realities gets them down in the dumps.

Whatever it is that I choose, I have less than two full days to make it happen.

Share your ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day with children.

Love to all!

CC

Eight Tips to Protect Your Children Online

Connecting with friends and family, playing online games, and sharing photos are some of the things that make the internet so attractive.  But this medium that many of us use for entertainment purposes is ripe for criminals who have something sinister in mind for our children.  Before letting your child enter the wild, wild west world wide web, here are a few tips to help keep them safe.

Talk to your children about internet safety and your expectations regarding what information they’re allowed to share and access.  Tell them that many things and people online are not what or who they seem to be.  Arming them with this information will help them to make good choices and surf safely.

Set rules and consequences.  This is the step that will be hardest for most families; however, it is the most important.  Once you communicate your internet usage expectations to your child, inform them that internet access will be restricted if they participate in unsafe activities online.

Become their online friend.  If your child has a social networking profile, become their friend – not for purposes of stalking them, but to provide an added level of protection. Special note about Facebook profiles: Facebook offers special profile protection for subscribers who are under age 18.  Make sure your child is honest in submitting their age during the account set-up process.  Birth date, month, and year can be kept private, but are necessary for Facebook to set up age-appropriate settings.

Use parental controls software.  Windows Vista and Windows 7 have built-in parental controls that allow you to select content appropriate for your child to view.  You may choose to deny access to certain game ratings, downloads, or entire websites altogether (Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, or any other site of your choice).  Another great option is the ability to set time limits by the day and hour. E.g., blocking log-in access during overnight hours.

Log onto NetSmartz.org.  Their mission: “NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline.  The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement.  With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates”.  The goals of NetSmartz are to “Educate children on how to recognize potential Internet risks; Engage children and adults in a two-way conversation about on- and offline risks; and Empower children to help prevent themselves from being exploited and to report victimization to a trusted adult“.

Set up Zoobuh email accounts for young children.  I opened an account for my now-11-year-old who wanted to communicate with far away friends and family via email.  Parental controls are the best I’ve seen for most kid-safe software on the market.  Zoobuh allows parents to create “safe sender” lists, add contacts and allow your children to send only to those people, reject email links and attachments, and restrict times and places.  You may also choose how to handle messages that are rejected from your child’s email account: send them directly to the parents trash folder or inbox for review.  Fee: $12/year per account.

Install adequate anti-virus software.  There are many to choose from, but AVG is a trusted anti-virus software that we use at home and work (my husband owns an IT company and installs this product for home and business clients).  Try the free version.  With safe surfing habits (not clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources and visiting risky sites), you may find that you won’t need to upgrade to the paid version.  AVG is great in that it blocks many pop-ups and unsafe sites from loading as well as prevents harmful programs from auto-installing and stealing your personal information or targeting your child’s computer to upload inappropriate content.

Keep the computer in a common area of the house.  This alone will deter many children from visiting unsafe sites.  Your presence and influence go a`long way keeping your children safe.

Other Resources

ConnectSafely.org

National Crime Prevention Councilwww.McGruff.org

Safekids.com

Safeteens.com

Post now and share your tips for keeping children safe online.

Love to all!

CC

Do Your Children Have Chores?

I often hear parents grumble about the abundance of chores around the house, but am astounded at how many families don’t require children to do chores. 

Now, I didn’t have children, so that I could have little maids and chefs running around.  I had them, because my maternal instinct told me that it was my primary purpose in life.  Nothing else I accomplish will ever rate higher than being a mom.  That said, children a part of a family unit and where I’m from, each family member chips in to keep the household running.

The children’s television show Barney made cleaning up popular for the young crowd with the annoying, yet highly effective, Clean Up song.  This song inspired the preschool and elementary crowd to “do your share” of cleaning up after themselves. 

Teaching children to clean up after themselves shouldn’t be considered punishment.  It’s simply instilling responsibility and providing skills that will follow them for a lifetime.

When I was in grade school, teachers rewarded students who had clean workspaces.  The same held true for summer camp where we earned “golden nuggets” (spray painted rocks) for working with our fellow campers to ensure that our cabins were clean.  In college, we had weekly room inspections.  Failure to regularly pass room inspection was punishable by eviction from the dorms.  Ouch!  In places of employment, clean workspaces help keep us organized and productive.

Helpful strategies for achieving chore success:

  • Post a chore chart in the heart of the house (family room, kitchen, etc.) and meet with your chidren often to discuss their roles in completing household chores.  Put your chores on the schedule as well, so that they can see that you, too, play a vital role in keeping the house clean. 
  • Do not complete your child’s chores if they decide to throw a tantrum.  Doing so will send the wrong message.  Instead, remind them that their help benefits the entire family; remember to praise them along the way and immediately after.
  • Give your children age-appropriate chores.  Don’t expect a 5 year-old to make a perfect and neat bed.  Instead, praise them for doing their best.  In time, they will perfect the art of making a bed to your liking.  Maybe.

Need help determining age-appropriate chores?  Annie Stewart of WebMD suggests the following:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

  • Put toys away.
  • Put clothes in hamper.

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make own bed.
  • Fix bowl of cereal.

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry.
  • Help make and pack lunch.
  • Keep bedroom tidy.
  • Pour own drinks.

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Put away groceries.
  • Vacuum.
  • Make own snacks.
  • Wash table after meals.
  • Put away own laundry.
  • Make own breakfast.
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast.

Chores for children ages 10 and older.

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Unload dishwasher.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Clean bathroom.
  • Wash windows.
  • Cook simple meal with supervision.
  • Iron clothes.
  • Do laundry.
  • Mow lawn.
  • Change bed.

Click here for a full list.

Remember to balance the amount and difficulty of chores with other obligations, such as homework, extracurricular activities, work (for teens), social needs, and family activities.  Revisit the chore schedule periodically to determine whether or not it is effective.  Talk to your children to get their input, tweak the schedule, when necessary, and be sure to announce any changes during your family meeting. 

Do your children have chores?  If so, are tantrums, tears, and headaches part of the routine?  How do you overcome those challenges?

Let’s chat! 

Love to all!

CC