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Does your child need etiquette classes?

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Learning with a peer group

With entire sections in bookstores devoted to manners and etiquette, details can become overwhelming. You and your child may have please and thank you down, may be able to navigate most social situations with ease, but do you feel etiquette-challenged in a nice restaurant or in a large gathering? What, exactly, is the right way to introduce people? Whom do you name first? This is where an etiquette class may be just what you and your child need.

Curtseying Little Girls

If you as an adult sometimes stumble, think about how confusing it can be to your child. You both want to do the right thing in a certain situation, but what is it? You are not the only parent trying to teach specific manners while trying to figure them out yourself - and that's why manners classes have sprung up around the country for families who want their kids to have a good start, from an etiquette perspective.

Learning with friends

Whether you take the class at a community college, hotel or individual's home, in a series or a one-time event, classes in manners are a great resource for parents seeking to instill good manners in their kids -- and maybe get a refresher course for themselves. The internet and local contacts are great places to start to find the right class for your child.

While, yes, you could and do teach some of these same manners to your child, etiquette experts have experience teaching details of social interactions to kids in a way the kids are comfortable with - and without the added baggage of being the child's parent (the kids DO tend to act differently with their moms and dads!). And if you gather a small group of your child's friends to take the class together, not only do the kids learn and have fun, they have an established group with which to practice new manners when all class is done.

Specific themes and personal presentation

Some classes focus on specific etiquette areas, such as dining out, or talking with adults. Older kids might have the opportunity to learn about appropriate interaction at dances and social events. You can choose just what you feel your child needs.

In any case, kids will be expected to dress appropriately for the class, and consider how they present themselves. Your daughter may feel a little silly putting on her dressy dress on a Monday afternoon, but how one presents oneself is a part of etiquette and part of the manners learning process. It's something we tell our kids often as parents (particularly older kids, it seems), and manners classes can reinforce that message.

You may learn something, too

After sending a child to an etiquette class, don't be surprised if your child corrects you! We as adults sometimes get a little lax in some etiquette areas, and kids fresh from classes will not hesitate to point this out! You may feel a little embarrassed or even annoyed, but if both you and your kids come out of the experience with the knowledge of proper manners, you'll both have more confidence in your interactions in the wider world.

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