Local Etiquette Expert Offers Summertime Suggestions

Manners matter. We always want children to be polite; manners become even more important during the summer. Often times large amounts of children, who no longer have the structure of the school day, are gathered in unstructured situations.

Summer is the perfect time to pick places to attend as a family and explain appropriate behaviors before you head out. Kids love to succeed; they need to know the rules and have clear expectations in order to be successful. When it is beautiful outside, we may go the Chesterfield Family Aquatic Center or Faust Park. When it is raining, we might go to Chesterfield Mall or a see or a movie at Galaxy 14. These can be fun and memorable times for our families but an intended good time can quickly go south when manners are abandoned.

The sooner you begin having the expectation of manners with your children, the sooner they will rise to the occasion.  Don’t let working on manners trouble you this summer. Focus on four or five things that will help make this summer the best one yet.

1. Expect children to use “Please and Thank You.” Refrain from giving your children something unless they have asked politely and expressed thanks.  With consistency, this will become second nature for your children.

2. Encourage children to ask for something ONE time and to accept the answer whether it is “yes, no or maybe.” When parents give in to the pestering of multiple requests, begging or whining, undesirable behaviors are rewarded.

3. Children should respect adults and follow the rules established for a party or event. If parents express how “stupid” they think a rule is, kids will pick up on this and be less likely to be respectful.

4. Save running for outside. Kids love to run. Remind them to stay seated in a restaurant, stay with you at the mall and to be careful of others even at an outdoor venue. It is a safety issue and a manners issue.

5. Remind children to use their “inside voices.” Yelling inside any building takes away the peace and enjoyment of others. It works best to remind children before entering  rather than trying to quiet then down after you are inside.

To encourage good manners, set up a simple reward system. Placing marbles in a small glass jar works wonders for motivation. Maybe someone complimented them on their positive behavior at a restaurant or at the pool, maybe you heard them using “please and thank you” consistently or maybe you saw them put the needs of someone else ahead of their own. Place a marble in the jar each time. When the jar is full, do something special together to celebrate; Taking the children out to eat at a nice restaurant, having a movie night or going on a day trip to visit someplace new are all great reward experiences.

Good manners are a good habit. Manners make the world a more pleasant place. When parents encourage practice and reward successes when their children are young, these good habits will be evident as they grow.

Melenie Broyles is a Chesterfield resident and the owner of Etiquette Saint Louis. Broyles has taught corporate etiquette and children’s manners for 15 years and offers customized programs as well as camps and fun classes for kids. EtiquetteSaintLouis.com.