Article by Daniella Girgenti, with files from Crystal Cossitt
Today’s kids aren’t any different than the children you see holding doors for pregnant women as they struggle into the grocery store or giving up their seats to an elderly person on the bus on Leave it to Beaver reruns. Teaching a modern child about etiquette and manners is possible.
“As a parent, you wouldn’t think of sending your child off to play hockey without proper equipment and a pair of skates or to school without lunch money,” says Louise Fox, Canada’s etiquette expert. “In the same way, you do your children a disservice if you send them into the world without proper social skills…Empathy, our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s place and imagine how our words and actions make them feel, is what manners are really all about. “
In order to get kids on track and acting mannerly, Fox says that parents begin on the right path “as soon as [children] are born. We care for them, feed them and cuddle them when they cry. By these actions, you are teaching your child empathy; showing your understanding of their needs and wants and meeting them. Your baby watches and responds to you and learns this valuable life lesson.”
So how can parents keep on a positive and continue nurturing their children’s empathetic behaviour to raise perfectly mannered kids? Fox recommends the following top tips for teaching kids manners:
Model good behaviour at home: Children observe your behaviour and will follow what you do. It is important to treat others with respect and teach your children what this means. When you show respect, others tend to show you respect in return.
Start from a positive position: Always use the magic words - please, thank you, you’re welcome, I’m sorry - in conversation. Children learn to talk by mimicking what they hear. If they always hear you say ‘please’ when you ask for something and ‘thank you’ when you receive something, it will be a normal response when they learn to talk.
Make etiquette a part of your daily family life: Kids need to know that good manners are important all the time - not just when they go out or when they want something.
Everything that can be learned needs to be taught: Rather than beginning to correct your child when you are out or in an unfamiliar place, prepare before hand by telling your child what they can expect to happen, what they need to do and how you expect them to act. When they know how to behave, they tend to behave.
Remember that most etiquette rules are common sense: Explain to your child that not chewing with your mouth open is important because its shows respect for the other person who doesn’t want to see you eat like an animal. Practice polite greetings with family members and others saying “Good morning” or “Hello, how are you today?”
Reward positive behaviour with praise.
By setting the stage for a life of using proper social etiquette, Fox says that a parent’s goal of ensuring good manners become a habit and not something you just bring out on special occasions can be realized, making it possible for your children to go through life knowing “how to behave in situations and deal with more important things.”
Big thanks to FogLight for putting together this short video of Lunch Lady founder Ruthie Burd while she was attending a recent event! In the video Ruthie introduces our program and what we can do to help schools create a healthier food environment for their students.
Dear Families, School Council Members, School Administrators and Staff:
At the Lunch Lady Group, we are very excited about the new Healthy School Food and Beverage Act in Ontario. We would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the Lunch Lady is fully PPM150
compliant and is a big supporter of the Act and ones similar to throughout the country. Across Canada, our meals have always abided by strict nutritional standards. Adopting PPM150 has just taken a little tweaking to account for some unique elements of the legislation and our meals have been fully
compliant since September 2010.
In 2009 when legislation was introduced to ban industrial transfat from school food, the Lunch Lady made a submission to the Ontario government encouraging them to go further and provide additional nutritional guidelines for school food. As a result, we were honoured to be invited to participate in the development of the new legislation by serving on one of the Healthy Menus Writing Teams set up by the Ministry of Education in October of 2009.
The requirements are strict, it is true, and sometimes they present challenges to food providers but at the end of the day, we feel they have been introduced with the best interests of Ontario’s children at heart and we are happy to abide by them. We believe that schools do educate by the choices they offer and that most parents appreciate the introduction of regulations that will limit the amount of nutrient empty foods available for sale at school.
We conducted our own survey in October 2010 and of the 12,000 parents who responded, 75% were in favour of the government regulation of food at school. That’s pretty amazing and encouraging!
For our part, the Lunch Lady will continue to strive to create menus that are interesting, healthy and yummy for the students at your school as our business grows. Now in our 18th year, the Lunch Lady delivers her good hot lunch program to students in over 900 schools and every day we learn something new about how to improve and enhance our programs to better serve school communities.
President and Founder
To view the School Food and Beverage Policy Click Here. For more information on the School Food and Beverage Policy and the work that the Lunch Lady is doing to ensure compliance, please feel free to contact your local Lunch Lady or our national head office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-603-6656.
I heard a line during a recent interview that really struck me. It succinctly describes what (for the most part) parenting is today.
Parents today "suffer from a crisis of conscience and confidence," went the quote. Bang on, I thought. Truer words were never spoken. Shout it from the rooftops so everyone can hear.
It came from a mother of three kids in their 20's and 30's who seems to have a very pragmatic, common-sense approach to parenting.
Think about it.....we parents, by and large, analyze almost everything. Perhaps it's a function of the times we live in. There is just so much more out there to question.
The "conscience" part refers in large part to the inability to say no, to think that our kids need to have everything, or at least most things or something bad will happen, to feel copious amounts of guilt for anything and everything related to raising our children --- most of it irrational and unfounded. Today's parents often treat their children with kid gloves. They are not fragile, porcelain dolls --- neither parent nor child. We need to give ourselves and our kids some more credit.
The "confidence" part speaks to how the consequence of our parenting decisions leave us (parents) feeling. How will my kids react, how will other parents see me, what will my own parents think? It also seems to describe the constant need for external support and validation from so-called experts. There is nothing wrong with reasonable amounts of advice-seeking, but too much cannot be healthy.
Whatever happened to using plain old, wholesome, honest-to-goodness common sense to raise children.
Sure, it still exists, but it doesn't appear to be the overriding tool in child-rearing today.
I strongly believe in intuition and instinct in child-rearing with a healthy dose of common sense. In other words, always trying to cut through all the white noise, the heaps of clutter and simply reverting to the basics. Sharing stories with other parents in the trenches, and asking for support are most definitely very important, but at the end of the day give yourself some credit. After all, we did manage to bring them into this world didn't we?
Lianne Castelino: Lianne is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience as a television anchor and reporter in news, sports and lifestyle programming. She has spent most of her career as a news and sportscaster at CTV. A seasoned producer, Lianne has co-created, written and directed several award-winning parenting DVDs, co-authored a nutrition cookbook for toddlers, and co-hosted/produced a parenting radio program on the Corus Radio Network. A passionate writer, she has written scripts, produced web content and videos for corporate clients. She currently hosts “Parents Talk” on Rogers TV Toronto. Lianne is also a media relations consultant. She is married and the mother of three.
Remember the story of Hansel and Gretel? How did the witch attract them? It sure wasn’t a cottage made of broccoli and carrots, was it? No, it was candy, chocolate and gingerbread. Do you think they left a trail of whole wheat breadcrumbs markers to find their way back home? Probably not.
I bet if you looked in many children’s story books you’d find lots of references to food. Do you think it would be about vegetables? Well maybe if you were reading about Peter Rabbit. But more likely it would be references to cake, ice cream and candy – happy times seem to go with fat and sugar.
Saturday morning television is a showcase for the latest sugar coated cereals, treats and fast food. How can parents who want to encourage better eating habits compete with show business?
We need to start by talking about food, and thinking about the influence the media has on our children’s eating habits and preferences and our own weaknesses. As parents, we are still the keeper of the cupboard and what we store in there says a lot about what we expect and what we consider acceptable eating behaviour.
Most nutritionists agree that children and adults benefit from a balanced common sense approach to eating. There is nothing wrong with eating a cookie. There is a problem with eating a bag of cookies. So here is some simple, unsolicited advice from the Old Lunch Lady
It’s Ok to keep treats in the house
Be clear on what a portion size is
Be clear about how many treats will be available for the week
When the cupboard is bare, don’t despair, the message is there, someone ate more than his or her fair share.