The basis of etiquette starts in building habits of instruction and character in our children, but how do we do that? Here
are five keys to help parents unlock the
door to successful etiquette training.
Successful training involves a continu-
ous cycle of instruction, reinforcement,
correction, and requires a consistent ex-
ample. Polished behavior has to become
a habit, and habits are often more effec-
tively “caught” than “taught.” We need to
treat our children as though we won’t have
them next year, and train them as though
they won’t have us next year. Never forget
that training and telling are not synonyms.
Avoid teaching rules for rules’ sake. Each
procedure we teach or practice, whether
as simple as not interrupting when oth-
ers are speaking, or as involved as learn-
ing how to introduce people to one an-
other, or which utensils should be used
at a formal dinner, communicates a heart
attitude and provides an opportunity for
us to exercise self-discipline. As chil-
dren mature, learning the why behind
the what helps them apply principles of
gracious behavior to contexts you might
never think to discuss with them.
Make teaching etiquette practical and af-
fordable. Role playing is a marvelous
teaching technique, and children of all
ages enjoy it. Just as many parents teach
vocabulary by having a “word of the day”
that everyone tries to use correctly as of-
ten as possible in conversation, so a fam-
ily can adopt an “etiquette rule of the
day” or set of related rules for a week.
Work at identifying different situations
5 Keys for
Unlocking the Door to Successful
by Inge Cannon
Tie each rule of etiquette to an opportunity
to demonstrate Godly character.