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How Can Families Review Manners Post-Social Distancing?

Three moms weigh in on how to get kids’ manners back on track or better, as they re-enter the social scene.

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THE MOM WHO IS FOCUSING ON ONLINE MANNERS SAYS…

“Increased screen time did not help with manners. Seeing the way people engage and speak to one another on social media doesn’t set the greatest example, either. We are trying very hard to instill manners when using digital channels. Here are a few ways:

  1. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online.
  2. Don’t engage in online arguments.
  3. Don’t post things to make fun of something or someone.
  4. Respect everyone’s views and opinions, whether you agree with them or not, and don’t criticize them in comments or DMs.
  5. Be media literate. Don’t believe and share everything you see. Be a critical thinker and verify your facts and sources before sharing posts or making comments.”

—Michelle Ellis, Denver, mom of two boys, ages 13 and 16; stepmom to a son, 23

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THE MOM RE-INSTILLING MANNERS IN CONVERSATION SAYS…

“Now that my son’s been attending camp and going to school, we’re practicing being more mindful of not interrupting during conversations. Sometimes I might raise a finger so he acknowledges adults are still speaking and he needs to wait his turn. Or, I’ll go silent and wait for him to recognize what just happened. Occasionally, I’ll say, “I’m still speaking, please wait,” until he gets the picture. I’ve also let some rude remarks slide but am calling more attention to them now. Often I’ll call it out immediately saying, “Hey, buddy, that’s not a kind thing to say. I know it might not be your intention, but this might come off as rude.” If it’s something I notice a pattern of, I’ll role play with him later so he can find better words to explain what he meant, in a kinder, more polite manner.”

—Priscilla B., Denver, mom of a 7-year-old son

THE AUTHOR OF A BOOK ON MANNERS FOR KIDS SAYS…

“During the stress and uncertainty of the lockdown, parents might have let up on enforcing manners. When a family isn’t socializing, manners become more casual. Get the basics down first: saying “please” and “thank you,” using eye contact, answering a question when asked, not chewing with their mouth open, using a napkin (not a sleeve), and saying “excuse me” when they burp or make another bodily noise. After those basics, focus on the next level of manners.
My favorite way to teach manners is through a “dress rehearsal.” Act out things like where to place the napkin, how to pass the food, etc. Or, pretend to greet each other with eye contact, smiles, and pleasant phrases. Make it lighthearted and fun, and children will be drawn to it.”

—Jennifer L. Scott, author of Connoisseur Kids: Etiquette, Manners, and Living Well for Parents and Their Little Ones

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