Matt and I have had several occasions recently where we’ve looked at each other and wondered where we went wrong. We have talented and charming children, but they have these “were you born in a barn?” moments that are embarrassing and disconcerting.
Good manners seem to come more easily to some children than others. Some of our children who are natural socializers have a much easier time knowing what’s appropriate in any given situation than some of our other children, who tend to be socially awkward. Maybe all of your children are in the first category (lucky you!), but we’ve realized that some of ours may need more specific instruction and lots of practice, accompanied by consistent reminders.
My plan for February is to talk about three or four principles each night with our kids (I’ve started making a list, and it is LONG!), adding to a big poster as we do so. Hopefully by the end of the month, we’ll be ready for a “fancy dinner” where we can all be on our best behavior!
A couple of other fun ideas: I found this website which has a list of Colonial Manners (it says they were transcribed by a young George Washington, but I can’t figure out if they were his ideas or if he was copying them from some other source). I’m going to help my older kids understand the archaic language, and discuss with them the ones which still apply (almost all).
And to kick things off, we’re going to have a mixed-up dinner. You know, where you give everyone a menu, written in code, and they have to choose 3-4 items for each course, and they end up eating spaghetti with a spoon, and having pepper with dessert? I think our kids are the perfect age to get a huge kick out of that, and it will be the perfect lead-in for a discussion of why there are mannerly ways of doing things, since everyone’s happier when they have a knife and a fork.
Y tú? Are manners something you’ve spent time thinking about, or do they just come naturally in your family? Do you have clever ideas for modeling and reminding kids about proper manners? A book I should read? A game we should play?