According to etiquette expert, two-time best selling author and the founder of The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program, Myka Meier says there is an exact time you should start teaching etiquette. “I always say from the moment your child can sit at the dining table with you (even in a highchair), it’s time to start teaching good manners and etiquette!” Myka says for little ones, it starts even before they can speak, while handing them food at the dinner table say “please” and “thank you” for them so they can hear the context of how the word is used. For older children, she feels it’s important to teach good manners through compassion and respect, asking how something would have made the child feel if it happened to them and what they should do next time. “If you can raise a child to think about how their actions affect other people, you’re doing a great job.”
Most importantly, Myka teaches that every etiquette lesson you teach should all go back to kindness and respect. “Many people think dining etiquette for example is about learning to be formal, but instead it’s actually about using good table manners to show those dining around you respect.”
Here is Myka’s list of the top 25 etiquette lessons a child should know by the age of 10…in no particular order (although she admits, number 1 is her favourite):
- The true meaning of etiquette is always to show respect and kindness to everyone and all living things around you.
- Use the phrases please, thank you, and excuse me every day.
- How to invite someone to join a group if they are alone.
- How to hold silverware correctly.
- If there is nothing nice to say, it’s best not to say anything at all.
- How to properly use a napkin to wipe your mouth. (No sleeves!)
- How to chew with your mouth closed.
- No elbows on the table … ever!
- Take off a hat upon entering someone’s home.
- Do not interrupt an adult when they are speaking to someone else.
- Avoid comments on someone’s appearance unless it’s to say something nice.
- How to write a thank you letter.
- How to give a compliment to someone else.
- How to shake hands correctly.
- If invited to a restaurant, how to behave respectfully.
- You must always help someone in need, particularly if they are less able than you. are. This means giving up a seat or open a door for someone.
- How to introduce themselves and others properly.
- Be aware of positive body language and how to show it.
- Do not call an adult by their first name unless the adult introduces themselves as so, or instructs a child to do so.
- Always knock on a door before opening it.
- How to make eye contact when speaking to another person.
- Not to point or stare.
- Always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- How to answer a phone politely.
- Know when to use indoor vs outdoor voices.