Teaching Manners Without Pulling Your Hair Out!
Never Be Too Tired or Feel Too Old to Work on Manners
Mom Always said, “Manners, Posture and Attitude are free, and “Use what the good Lord gave you between your ears—your brains.” Yes, sometimes she did have to tell us we had brains. As a parent, I always say that I will never be too old or too tired to discipline my son. Even though many times I’ve thought to myself, I that THIS is the one that will do me in and that I actually could be too old and tired to care. The busyness of work, finances, home life, church, activities, interests, hobbies, blended families, and you name it can pull our attention away from simple things, free things, that can make a difference. Manners, posture and attitude meant something 40 years ago and can still make a difference today. Eight No Nonsense Tips on Manners follow:
1) No chewing with your mouth open. Anywhere. Anytime. Any age. We used to have a rule that the lips had to be closed when you put a bite in your mouth. Now as my son has gotten older and wiser, we have to amend the Rule with the following: Mouth must be closed and cheeks NOT bulging like you are hiding a golf ball in your mouth and eyeballs and eyebrows can not have exaggerated movement. Seriously. How many adults do you know that could stand to refresh this rule?
2) Chivalry. It never goes out of style. Open doors and assist with chairs for young women, ladies, mothers, elderly (men or women). Shoot. Surprise someone hold the door open for anyone coming in or out of a store.
3) Sit up straight and stay in your chair. Yes, fast food needs to be fast, but it should not really matter if a meal costs $2.99 or $12.99. Manners should still matter as long as your feet are under a table. Mom’s words, “As long as your feet are under my table, you’ll go by my rules.” In our home, all rules transcend fast food and apply whether at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, McDonald’s, school and well, anywhere. How many times have you seen children sit in their chair but are turned the wrong direction, get up and down, run around.
4) No playing with food, building silverware or condiment forts, playing or feeding animals at the table. Period.
5) To avoid a constant reminder that children need table manner corrections, try a baseball steal sign. Scratch your nose to silently signify to your child that he needs to close his mouth when chewing, speed up eating or say thank you before leaving the table. Create touching your elbow, tugging on your ear or something else that connects with your child to look at you and follow through. Trust me though, he will probably shake off your sign occasionally. In my “olden days”, if I acted up at the table, my dinner was finished and there was no snacking or raiding the fridge after meals.
6) Keeping comments about the food to yourself. Don’t ask, “Did we have this before? Did we like it? Did we say we wanted it again? These questions do not fly for dinner conversation.
7) Leave the table when asked to be excused. Any age. Clear the dishes from the table and one extra item for each hand. Make it a practice for anyone eating at the table to thank the hands that prepared the food before you leave the table.
8) Watch your posture! Simply put…sit up, straighten up, don’t slouch. My mother always said that your posture says a lot about how you feel about yourself and had a lot to do with first impressions. Gee. Nowadays, I don’t think it takes a whole seven seconds to make a first impression….it takes probably three. Oh yes, pick up your feet and tie you shoes. It looks like someone has more energy that way.
Posture does more for self-esteem than probably three self-help books. Your kids will get tired of hearing you talk about it so MLB sign it.
Your own Manners Matter’s Clinic can be run anywhere and in our family, we frequently discuss them at family meetings.
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