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How can I learn and teach manners?


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Hi everyone,

 

Over the past year, I've slowly started realizing I don't have much knowledge of common manners. I mean, I know the basics like don't talk with your mouth full and don't interrupt others, etc. But I find myself in situations where I don't know what's proper etiquette. Things like how to use the utensils appropriately, the best way to introduce two people, etc. Maybe that's more than just "common manners". Is there a book, video series, curriculum, anything that can help me learn this and also something I can use to teach my children? My kids are young right now, but they're interested in learning. I thought maybe this would be something we can focus on over the summer break.

 

In case it's interesting to anyone, I found out I needed to learn more table manners because I now live in Europe and some of the manners are different here. For example, you typically always keep your knife and fork in each hand without setting them down. Then you just sort of push food up onto your fork and eat. But I'm pretty sure in America you're supposed to cut your food, then set down your knife, then eat from the fork. At least I think so? See, I need help! Haha!

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We've used 365 Manners Kids Should Know as part of our Morning Basket before. (Not all the time, but we work through it here and there; the kids think it's fun!) Maybe something like that would work for you?

 

This book, Modern Manners also looks good. (I've never read it, but it came up in my Amazon search when I was looking for the other one, and it looks like a good resource for adults! I added it to my future reference wishlist...) 

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Hi everyone,

 

Over the past year, I've slowly started realizing I don't have much knowledge of common manners. I mean, I know the basics like don't talk with your mouth full and don't interrupt others, etc. But I find myself in situations where I don't know what's proper etiquette. Things like how to use the utensils appropriately, the best way to introduce two people, etc. Maybe that's more than just "common manners". Is there a book, video series, curriculum, anything that can help me learn this and also something I can use to teach my children? My kids are young right now, but they're interested in learning. I thought maybe this would be something we can focus on over the summer break.

 

In case it's interesting to anyone, I found out I needed to learn more table manners because I now live in Europe and some of the manners are different here. For example, you typically always keep your knife and fork in each hand without setting them down. Then you just sort of push food up onto your fork and eat. But I'm pretty sure in America you're supposed to cut your food, then set down your knife, then eat from the fork. At least I think so? See, I need help! Haha!

 

Judith Martin's "Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Etiquette."  It's great fun to read, unlike some etiquette books which are just boring. You learn so much from reading it, and sometimes you LOL at the same time. :-) There's also "Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children." I love that, too. :-)

 

And yes, you are correct: In the U.S. we are supposed to do the whole switching-back-and-forth with the knife and fork. You're in Europe, so eat as they do. :-)

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We've used 365 Manners Kids Should Know as part of our Morning Basket before. (Not all the time, but we work through it here and there; the kids think it's fun!) Maybe something like that would work for you?

 

This book, Modern Manners also looks good. (I've never read it, but it came up in my Amazon search when I was looking for the other one, and it looks like a good resource for adults! I added it to my future reference wishlist...)

We also have the 365 Manners book and use it in our morning basket with kids together - and have them practice.
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And yes, you are correct: In the U.S. we are supposed to do the whole switching-back-and-forth with the knife and fork. You're in Europe, so eat as they do. :-)

Continental style table manners are perfectly acceptable in the US. American style, while perfectly acceptable in Europe, will make you look like somewhat of a rube. (Oh, and don't keep your hand in your lap.) I actually know very few people who use American style even in the US. If you have to teach your children one, I would go with Continental. 

Edited by bibiche
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Continental style table manners are perfectly acceptable in the US. American style, while perfectly acceptable in Europe, will make you look like somewhat of a rube. (Oh, and don't keep your hand in your lap.) I actually know very few people who use American style even in the US. If you have to teach your children one, I would go with Continental.

I am glad to hear that the Continental style is acceptable here. I must say that the American style is not very efficient. I have tried at times to follow it but I just can't for the life of me get used to it!

Edited by Mabelen
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And yes, you are correct: In the U.S. we are supposed to do the whole switching-back-and-forth with the knife and fork. You're in Europe, so eat as they do. :-)

 

 

Huh, the things you learn... I assumed that it was mostly a class difference. So, if you're at an important function involving the upper echelons of US society, do you use American style or Continental style? I always assumed Continental, but now y'all are having me doubt myself.

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Where I live it would be seen as a regional difference, as the wealthy and powerful people here still eat US style. In NYC I was informed me that "anyone who is anyone" eats European style. So, perhaps it's more of a combination.

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  • 1 year later...
On 4/21/2017 at 8:21 AM, Targhee said:
On 4/21/2017 at 8:08 AM, EKT said:

We've used 365 Manners Kids Should Know as part of our Morning Basket before. (Not all the time, but we work through it here and there; the kids think it's fun!) Maybe something like that would work for you?

 

This book, Modern Manners also looks good. (I've never read it, but it came up in my Amazon search when I was looking for the other one, and it looks like a good resource for adults! I added it to my future reference wishlist...)

We also have the 365 Manners book and use it in our morning basket with kids together - and have them practice.

I've requested the 365 Manners book from the library. How do you 'practice'? I am interested im this book and I ask because although we've put an emphasis on manners at home, I find my 8 yr old is lately losing hers. I almost feel like it's become 'cool' to be blasse and somewhat lacking manners. It could be peer driven, who knows. It drives me nuts!! We've had several discussions about what's acceptable and expect her to be polite. I wonder if 'bibliotherapy' will help (LOL). I feel like I'm harping a lot (sometimes to no avail or she 'forgets' & we start at square 1 next time) when I feel like she should be blossoming more in this area. Sigh....

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1 hour ago, Earthmerlin said:

I've requested the 365 Manners book from the library. How do you 'practice'? I am interested im this book and I ask because although we've put an emphasis on manners at home, I find my 8 yr old is lately losing hers. I almost feel like it's become 'cool' to be blasse and somewhat lacking manners. It could be peer driven, who knows. It drives me nuts!! We've had several discussions about what's acceptable and expect her to be polite. I wonder if 'bibliotherapy' will help (LOL). I feel like I'm harping a lot (sometimes to no avail or she 'forgets' & we start at square 1 next time) when I feel like she should be blossoming more in this area. Sigh....

We practiced with role playing mostly, right as we read it. Sometimes we applied them over lunch/dinner (if it was a table manner) that same day. It was just a natural outflow, nothing really structured.

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On 7/2/2018 at 9:30 PM, Earthmerlin said:

I've requested the 365 Manners book from the library. How do you 'practice'? I am interested im this book and I ask because although we've put an emphasis on manners at home, I find my 8 yr old is lately losing hers. I almost feel like it's become 'cool' to be blasse and somewhat lacking manners. It could be peer driven, who knows. It drives me nuts!! We've had several discussions about what's acceptable and expect her to be polite. I wonder if 'bibliotherapy' will help (LOL). I feel like I'm harping a lot (sometimes to no avail or she 'forgets' & we start at square 1 next time) when I feel like she should be blossoming more in this area. Sigh....

But an eight-year-old is still young enough to need continual nagging, er, reminding of how she should behave in every situation.

Since you've already had the discussions, it is now your responsibility to remind her how to behave correctly each time she does not. It can be gentle, but it needs to be continual.

Miss Manners says it takes 18 years of constant nagging to rear a well-mannered adult. :-)

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11 hours ago, Ellie said:

But an eight-year-old is still young enough to need continual nagging, er, reminding of how she should behave in every situation.

Since you've already had the discussions, it is now your responsibility to remind her how to behave correctly each time she does not. It can be gentle, but it needs to be continual.

Miss Manners says it takes 18 years of constant nagging to rear a well-mannered adult. ?

Yeah, you're right and it's good to be reminded of this. She's such a sweet lil' thing and I need to remember I'm tending a garden w/ her....

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I know the feeling!   I am clueless about manners because I was never taught.   I often have to find out the hard way that I am doing something rude or incorrect.   I have learned to watch others closely and try to imitate them in certain social situations.   (Don't eat until they eat.   Do the same thing with my napkin.   etc. etc.)   So I can relate to your struggle OP!

Some tools I have found that I really like:

1)   Manners Made Easy-   I LOOOOOOVE this book.    The book is out of print, so you will have to buy it used.   However, the ebook/kindle version is very cheap and easy to use.   The chapters/lessons are VERY short.  Each one takes maybe 3 minutes to read.   So we read a chapter each night at dinner.   (That way I don't have to add another "thing" into our school day.  Also, my husband and I benefit from learning this stuff too!)   I also like the other things this author has written.  (NOTE:  This book is not secular.)

2)   Laying Down the Rails for Children (by simply charlotte mason)-   I think that habits and manners are closely related.   For example, washing your hands before you come to the table or being gracious to others in your speech/actions or learning how to make people comfortable when you are serving them dinner, etc.   I really like this book because it helps me to pick certain habits that I feel like our family needs to work on.  It has a series of short readings, fables, parables, poems and more for each habit.   You are supposed to read one selection and talk about the habit several times per week.     I don't necessarily think that children are going to learn manners from hearing a poem alone, :) , HOWEVER, I do think the readings give us space in our week to talk about the manners/habits we are trying to cultivate; they allow me time to specifically teach the habits/manners I want them know.   They also give us inspiration and remind us why we are striving to better ourselves in the first place.   It is one thing to tell a child that they ought to behave a certain way, but unless you really can reach their heart and make them want to behave a certain way, you won't really see much change.   

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On 4/21/2017 at 10:08 AM, EKT said:

We've used 365 Manners Kids Should Know as part of our Morning Basket before. (Not all the time, but we work through it here and there; the kids think it's fun!) Maybe something like that would work for you?

 

This book, Modern Manners also looks good. (I've never read it, but it came up in my Amazon search when I was looking for the other one, and it looks like a good resource for adults! I added it to my future reference wishlist...) 

We used Modern Manners this year. It was a big hit. It focuses on manners in business, so some of it, the kids weren’t quite ready for (email etiquette) so we skipped those. But they had a lot of fun practicing handshakes and introductions and setting the table for dinner. 

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On 4/21/2017 at 10:11 AM, Ellie said:

 

Judith Martin's "Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Etiquette."  It's great fun to read, unlike some etiquette books which are just boring. You learn so much from reading it, and sometimes you LOL at the same time. ? There's also "Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children." I love that, too. ?

 

And yes, you are correct: In the U.S. we are supposed to do the whole switching-back-and-forth with the knife and fork. You're in Europe, so eat as they do. ?

I was going to suggest this book also.  I bought it when I was in grad school.  Coming from a very working-class background, I felt out of place and this book made me feel so much better - mainly because etiquette actually isn't difficult to learn.

I bought the perfect children book too ... planning to read it this summer.  Hoping it isn't too late, LOL.  Though I believe a good example takes care of 99% of it.

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