Manner Monday®: Practice, Practice, Practice… even with Manners

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I receive phone calls on a regular basis from moms with young children wanting to know if we offer programs for younger kids (our programs currently start for 5th graders and go all of the way up to grown adults). The callers are always asking for tips on how to get their little ones to sit through dinner and to use their table manners.  I find myself answering time and time again… practice, practice, practice.  As a parent, we have to start somewhere by setting Expectations, providing an opportunity to Practice, and Repeat.

Start off by asking yourself what are your expectations?  Keeping in mind that the expectations need to be in line with our child’s age and social development; if your kiddo is a toddler, what can you truly and reasonable expect of him? Whatever the desired outcome is, it’s not going to happen overnight – but it will happen over a series of many nights, and many meals. Practice.

Think about it in relation to dance or sports.  You would not send your son to his first t-ball game without going to practice first.  You wouldn’t let your daughter participate in a recital without first attending dance class.  Same with table manners, you can’t expect your child to ‘perform’ at Grandma’s house or out to eat at restaurant if you haven’t given them the tools to be successful.

We still have a LONG road ahead of us with our 9 year old.  But I was tickled pink to see him stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park during our recent cruise.  When we went to dinner in the dining room, he looked the waiter in the eye when placing his order.

BV ordering

He stayed seated (what!?!?!?)… at home I keep threatening super glue for his seat to keep him in his chair at dinner time.  He said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the waiter and other crew members. And, he used his silverware like a little human.

BV cutting food

Was he perfect?  Absolutely not.  Did he meet the age-appropriate expectations, pretty darn close!  I’m not going to lie… super proud mom moments!

Something we find tremendously helpful is having conversations prior to ‘performance’.  During these conversations we talk about our expectations and ask questions; we talk about what’s getting ready to take place. We’re setting him up for success by giving him a preview, kind of like a dress rehearsal, or practice. Do we still have to prompt him? … Yes. But for the most part, it works! Here’s a picture of the process working.  One night we were lucky enough to enjoy dinner with our friend, Tommy, we used to work with on cruise ships years ago.  Before the dinner, we explained to our son that there might be times during the conversation that he may get bored; and if that happened, what could he do to entertain himself. So we put pen and paper in my purse, and he knew he could help himself to it.  And he did!  We also let him head off to the kids club after he finished his meal.  For us, sitting and chatting for an hour and half is fun.  For a kid – that’s painful.

Dinner with Captain Tommy

And just in case we were feeling a bit too ‘proud’… we were brought back to reality when we returned home and he commenced to standing up while eating and randomly walking around the table… it’s a constant learning process; Practice, practice, practice!!!

I’d love to hear – what are your favorite tips to set your kiddo up for success when it comes to table manners?

Click to Tweet:  You can’t expect your child to ‘perform’ good manners if you haven’t armed them with tools for success. #MannerMonday

And always… thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue

On another note…

Have you seen our end of the season video yet?  Thank you to one of our Student Ambassadors, Presley Rhea, for creating the video this year!

And if you’re curious as to why I was verklempt at the end of the video, you can visit this link to read the story:

The highest compliment you can give us is a referral to your friends and coworkers. Please share our registration and contact information with any families you think might be interested in participating in our program.

Each year we build on the previous year as we add to the curriculum.  We have many students who continue with us each season, from our Level 5 (5th grade) program through our Passport (High School) Program.  Our goal with the continuous exposure, and gentle reminders, of the courtesies we teach over consecutive years – is to assist you in raising well-mannered young adults.

  • Continued Exposure:  Just as continued exposure to athletics and school homework reaps rewards; continued exposure to the social skills taught in our program will provide lifelong lessons that will benefit your child throughout the classroom and into the boardroom.
  • Benefits and Rewards:  One of the biggest rewards of our students returning year after year, is the virtual ‘light bulb’ that seems to turn on and stay on; the students are really starting to get it and they are very proud of themselves.  Their confidence is building.  We’ve highlighted some of our graduating seniors on my blog at

For more information click on the links below:
5-8th Grade Programs
9-12th Grade Programs
General Information

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