Culture & Entertainment

How to teach your kids etiquette the fancy way

By: Jennifer Gruden
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

How to teach your kids etiquette the fancy way

By: Jennifer Gruden
Maybe I just saw Pretty Woman too many times, but one thing I'd like my kids to have before they leave the nest is the ability to behave appropriately in many different social situations. But kids don't learn etiquette easily on their own. Since our home tends to run pretty casually (I don't actually own a proper set of china, although keep reading for how I handle that), teaching advanced etiquette could be perceived as a challenge. It's not hard to cover "don't chew with your mouth open" or not to drink from the soup bowl, but we actually don't have many occasions where we use multiple forks, or even place our cutlery in a particular way to indicate that we're through. Teach your kids etiquette Fun ways to teach kids etiquette But after thinking it over, I realized that's probably true for the vast majority of adults and yet most of us learned what used to be called company manners along the way. In my case I learned a lot of them at grandparents' houses, but that doesn't work for my kids -- their grandparents are all relaxed and pretty on-the-go, rather than hosting several-course meals on a fancy tablecloth. So I decided that rather than seeing my job as enforcing proper etiquette when the occasion calls for it, I'd just teach it in advance. So I came up with the idea of creating fancy meals about 4 times a year. I've picked up some slightly worn china at garage sales that I bring out, and we lay out forks and knives and spoons according to the courses served, and invite our kids to dress up or roleplay the part of royalty. The extra layer of fun focuses their attention (or so my theory goes) and then if they're teens or young adults and find themselves at a formal meal or a business event, they'll know where to start. And of course, we have a lot of fun with it too. I also plan to make some of them more multicultural and look at different etiquette in different cultures with different cuisines. How do you lay the groundwork for your kids to become competent adults at things like formal events? (Photography by glans galore via Flickr)
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How to teach your kids etiquette the fancy way

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