Thanksgiving signals the beginning of the holiday season, and it’s a special time of feasting with family and friends. We’re often so consumed with the dinner details that we just assume our children know how to act when the company comes.
So, how do we prepare our children for this special day? Below are ten behaviors for a children’s refresher course on Thanksgiving Manners 101 that if practiced by children and adults as well will make the holidays fun for all.
1. Remember the magic words. “Please” and “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” work wonders with adults and are met with positive attention. Answer, “Yes, Ma’am” or “No, Sir,” when adults ask questions. Not all adults expect this courteous response, but almost all are impressed.
2. Show respect by using good greeting manners and introduction skills. Failing to acknowledge another person’s presence is a sign of disrespect. Instead, children should:
• Smile, stand tall, look the person in the eye, and say, “Hello,” in a pleasant voice.
• Shake hands if the person extends a hand. All children need instruction in how to shake hands—neither too hard nor too limp.
• Listen to what the person says and answer courteously.
3. Lend a Hand. Be available to help carry packages or dishes of food into the house. Hold the door open for family members or guests. When it’s time to be seated at the table, pull out the chair for the ladies or elderly guests.
4. Accept compliments with grace. Guests and relatives usually compliment a child on how much they have grown or how they look. Children should receive the compliment with a smiling, “Thank you.” It’s disrespectful to contradict a complimentary remark. When a child is told she looks pretty in her outfit, she shouldn’t reply that she hates it and her mom made her wear it anyway. This implies that the person complimenting her is wrong.
5. Stand up for adults. Children should always rise from their seats when an adult they haven’t greeted enters the room. They should acknowledge the older person with eye contact and a smile. It is always courteous to greet people cheerfully, turn down the TV or music, and share the space on the couch or at the table.
6. Avoid annoying behaviors. No gum chewing, rough-housing, or yelling where adults are congregating. Instead be happy and pleasant to be around.
7. Ask to be excused. Though adults often linger at the end of the meal, most children can’t sit that long without fidgeting. When a child has finished eating and has visited a reasonable amount of time, they should ask, “May I please be excused?” Their polite request should be honored.
8. Stay off the phone. Cell phones should not be brought to the table, nor should a phone conversation be held in the room where people are visiting. If a child must talk on the phone, he should go to a private place and talk briefly so he can rejoin the group.
9. Text messaging and visiting don’t mix. Children truly believe they can carry on a polite conversation and send or receive text messages at the same time, but when their attention is divided, they aren’t respecting the other person. Ask your child to put their phone away for the day. When everyone has gone home, they can talk and text as much as they want.
10. Take out your ear phones and turn off your IPOD. You can listen to your IPOD later, but for now, spend time talking and sharing with the people who really care about you.
Practice makes perfect, so start practicing with your child today. By Thanksgiving, their manners will be as natural as breathing.