Mrs. McVeigh's Manners
a division of Elise McVeigh's Life Camps
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Be respectful in other people's neighborhoods

 Good causes are good causes. And good manners are good manners.

Let's make sure the two go hand in hand. I was reminded of this recently when a Sunday-morning walkathon appeared in my neighborhood.

First of all, let me say that I'm an advocate of walkathons. I've helped organize them when I once worked with a nonprofit.

But as we walk through familiar or unfamiliar neighborhoods promoting a cause, let's always be mindful of the tranquility of the surroundings.

Organizers should respect the space of others who live in the neighborhood. Be courteous and allow people the right of ways on their walks or jogging paths.

It’s not easy when several people are together, of course, but organizers should also respect noise levels while they're in the neighborhood -- in other words, no honking horns or loud music.

And most of all, organizers should encourage participants to respect personal property. No one likes to see people traipse across a well-manicured lawn to take a picture under a trellis of roses.

I don't believe anyone in any neighborhood has a problem with people promoting their causes. The important thing is to not let the neighborhood and its residents feel violated or taken advantage of as if they were a tourist attraction.

It's a matter of good common sense, manners and respect for the residents.

Common mistakes of children dinner guests

 As a mother of three boys, and a manners teacher, I see a lot of the same mistakes that are made by children when a dinner guest in someone’s house. Here are suggestions on what to remind your child about before he is a dinner guest at someone’s house.

 
Sit down at the table after the hostess does.
Remind your children that they do not sit down before the hostess. If there is not a lady of the house, then wait for the host to sit down before they are seated.
 
Start to eat after the hostess does.
No one should start eating until the hostess takes her first bite.
 
Eat what is served.
Try all new foods. Nothing is more insulting to the person who cooked the meal if it is not eaten.  Even if it is not your favorite food, at least try a few bites. Refrain from making bad faces or comments if it turns out to not taste good to you.  Try to look like you are enjoying the meal.
 
Keep the elbows off the table.
It is comfortable for whatever reason to rest your elbows on the table, but it is considered rude. Hands belong on your utensils, or in your lap or at your sides when not eating.
 
Say thank you after a meal.
Thank the host or hostess for the meal (even if it is your own mom or dad).  It takes a lot of time and preparation to cook a dinner for a family and even more for guests.  Show your gratitude of being included by thanking the cook for including you.
 
Leave with a good-bye and thank you.
Thank the host and/or hostess for having you over when you leave.  If you did not have a good time, you do not need to lie and say that you did. A simple thank you will suffice. A follow-up thank you note is always a nice gesture as well.
 

Helping children become good guests

 

Part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from them.

Here are some manners mistakes children commonly make while a guest at someone else’s home, and my suggestions on how to help your child with them.

Not waiting to be invited in. A lot of children knock or ring the doorbell too many times, and then, when the door is open, they barge in. Ask your child to be patient while waiting at the door.

Not asking where to go. Children get excited about being at a relative’s or a friend’s house — especially if it is a new place to them — and often run straight to their friend’s room, the backyard, etc. Remind your child not to wander around someone’s house. He should wait for his friend or an adult host to instruct him where he is welcome to go. Especially do not open any closed doors.

Asking for food and drink. Wait for food or drink to be offered. Refrain from asking for those delicious cookies that your hostess made last time. Of course, nothing is wrong with asking for a glass of water, but otherwise, wait. Also, even if you’re at Grandma’s house, never go into a pantry or refrigerator unless invited.

Not offering to help with any of the day's preparations. Offer to carry out the snacks, set up a game, or set and clear the table for a meal. A hostess always loves help, so knowing how to set a table is so appreciated. Asking to help with the dishes after dinner is even better.

Polite Phrases Should be Heard More Often

 Have you ever been in line at a store and proud to hear a fellow customer be patient, kind, and continue to be polite even after things are not quite going his way?  Even though the sales associate is new and had to ring up his merchandise several times, the person continues to smile and tell them no problem.  The customer finally gets finished and apologizes to you for having to wait, even though it was not even his fault.  Unfortunately we do not see and hear this often enough.  Typically we want melt into the background because of how rude a customer is acting.  It is even worse when they do it in front of their children.  You know these kids are probably the ones acting disrespectful in their word choices to their teachers and friend’s parents.People are not as respectful with their words as they used to be.  We teach our children from birth to say please and thank you, but then turn around and forget to do it ourselves.  When someone bumps into you, you should expect to get an “excuse me,” but often do not.  Children who use the word “mam” after saying yes or no always impress me.  It sounds so much more respectful than the typical “yah” that you get from most kids.   

Your tone of voice can also make or brake how polite and respectful you sound.  I have one child when he was young who knew the right words to use, but would just blow it with his tone of voice.  If you do not have a polite tone in your voice, you may as well forget trying to sound polite at all. 

Next time you hear a stranger say something polite, be sure to acknowledge it with saying something back or at least a big smile.  When children use polite words I always thank them for their good manners.  Any kind of positive affirmation should help them to continue being polite.

 

Make teaching your children manners fun!

 When it comes to teaching a young child good manners, finding a positive spin on etiquette will bring you more success than threats and negative words. To teach your children manners, make it fun and interactive.

If you have a young daughter, she probably enjoys playing princess. Next time she is in her princess costume, ask her to pretend how to meet you as her favorite princess. As she is meeting you, if she looks down, tell her princesses are confident and poised, they use good eye contact and a confident-sounding voice.

If you son likes to dress up as his favorite superhero, tell him Superman has a firm, but not too hard, handshake when he meets people.

If your child likes to play with dolls or action figures, play with him or her and have the dolls use good manners.

A lot of popular children’s characters have their own book, DVD or dolls related to good manners. The ones that I use in my camps include the Berenstain Bears, Madeline, and Barbie. Children not only love involving their favorite characters, but also learn a lot from them.

If you want your child to learn how to set a table, find a fun placemat that helps them know where all of the pieces in the place setting belong. You can also go online and find a picture of a correct place setting and print it out for them. I have both on my site, mrsmcveighsmanners.com.

Tune into your child’s interests, and engage them in learning manners in a fun and interactive way.

 

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