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MANNERS FOR PRACTICALLY PERFECT CHILDREN
From Ms. Manner’s Guide for Raising Practically Perfect Children: “There is no quick and easy way to rear a polite child. It takes 18 years of constant work to get one into presentable enough shape so that a college will take him or her off your hands”, she says, “and it can easily take another 10 years of coaching and reviewing before someone will consent to take the child permanently.” Before you can expect your child to behave politely, you must establish which manners are most important to your family. It goes without saying that you’ll want your child to be kind and considerate, but each situation demands specific rules, and if those rules aren’t clear to you, then they certainly won’t be clear to your child. The holiday season seems to offer all kinds of opportunities for the gaps in your child’s manners education to be visible. Decide now and rehearse in the privacy of our home how you want your child to react to some of these situations:

• “Clean your plate.” – New environments offer a wealth of new foods that preschoolers may not be inclined to experiment with, especially with the stress of strangers around. Simply ignore the food that your child does or does not eat. Ask others to do the same.

• Table manners – Put your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down. Wait until everyone has been served before you begin eating. Chew with your mouth closed. If you can’t reach an item, ask the person nearest to it to pass it. When you are finished, thank the cook for preparing the food.

• Receiving gifts – When you unwrap a present, go to the person who gave you the present and say something nice about the present. If that person is not there, write a thank-you note within the next few days saying something nice. If the gift is a compliment, teach your child to say, “Thank you. I like your dress, too” or some other compliment in return.

• Introductions – When your child is meeting someone, teach her to at least say hello and goodbye. Don’t make an issue of it. Never let the person being introduced describe her as “shy” or make a belittling comment such as “The cat got your tongue?”

There is a lot of focus on children’s having a high self-esteem. Self-esteem comes from competence. When our children know what to expect and how to handle themselves when that thing happens, no one needs to tell them how wonderful they are. They know they did well. You get your reward from their proud expressions.

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