Manners – Showing Respect

Helping your child master these simple rules of etiquette will get him noticed — for all the right reasons.
  • When asking for something, say “Please.”
  • When receiving something, say “Thank you.”
  • Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
  • If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation
  • When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.
  • The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
  • Do not comments on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.
  • When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
  • When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.
  • Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering.
  • When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.
  • Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.
  • Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.
  • Don’t call people mean names.
  • Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.
  • Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.
  • If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.
  • As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
  • If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbour working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new.
  • When an adult asks you for a favour, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
  • When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!
  • Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.
  • Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.
  • Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.
  • Don’t chew with your mouth open. It’s an obvious rule, but one that’s easy to forget when you’re enjoying a delicious meal.
  • Say “excuse me” whenever you need to leave the table. If you are a child or teenage, then ask an elder “if you may be excused to (insert reason here)”.
  • Ask for someone to pass you a dish or a seasoning. Never reach across a dish or someone else’s plate to reach something; instead, politely ask the person sitting next to you to “please pass the sauce.”
  • Don’t put your elbows on the table when you’re eating (British and American culture). It’s an old standby to admonish people for putting elbows on the table during a meal. If the meal has yet to begin or is over, however, putting your elbows on the table is acceptable.
  • Know how to manage informal and formal place settings. One of the most intimidating parts about dining can be not knowing which utensils or plates to use. Here’s a quick primer:
  • If you forget the particulars, remember: “work from the outside in”. This basically means that if there are utensils on both the right and left sides of the plate, you’ll start with what’s furthest right and furthest left, and gradually work closer to the plate.
  • If all else fails, just watch what everyone else is doing.
  • For an informal place setting, you should have a dinner plate in the center.
    • Immediately to the left of the plate will be two forks — the one closest to the plate is the “dinner fork,” to be used for the main course; the one furthest from the plate is meant for a salad or appetizer.
    • A dinner knife will be directly to the right of the plate, with the blade facing toward it; next to that will be two spoons. The soup spoon is furthest to the right; the dessert spoon (or teaspoon) is between the soup spoon and the knife.
    • Your glass should be positioned directly above the dinner knife. Subsequent glasses should be placed to the right.
    • You might have a small salad plate to the left of the forks.
    • You might have a small bread plate to the upper-left of the dinner plate, with a small butter knife. Use the butter knife to take a pat of butter and put it on your plate; then use the knife to spread “your” butter onto the bread.
    • A dessert spoon or fork might be placed horizontally above the dinner plate.
    • A cup and saucer (if you’re drinking coffee or tea) should be placed just above and to the right of the knife and spoons.
  • Know how to manage a formal place setting. A formal place setting should be mostly similar to an informal place setting, with a few key exceptions:
    • You might have a small fish fork between the dinner fork and the plate, if a fish course is being served.
    • You might have a fish knife between the dinner knife and the soup spoon, if you require one for a fish course.
    • You might have a small oyster fork on the far right side of the utensils to the right of the plate, if you’ll be eating an oyster course.
    • Glasses are placed according to type in a formal place setting. The one directly above your dinner knife is your water glass; to the right of that is a red or white wine glass, and then a sherry glass to the far right.
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