If you study the meaning of the two words manners and etiquette, you will discover that the two words have completely different meanings. Manners are the way people do things, the way they behave. Etiquette, on the other hand, is more like a set of rules to govern polite behavior.
A person may have perfect etiquette but have very poor manners. You might have heard someone say, “Boy, is that woman rude!” The woman might know all the correct rules of etiquette, but if she is rude and not kind to others, she has poor manners.
Etiquette is not just eating with the proper utensils or putting on an act in front of other people in order to impress them, it is displaying genuine kindness toward others. Good manners and proper etiquette is really just being kind and unselfish. It is treating others the way you would like to be treated.
Matthew 7:12 says, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
A good manner to teach a child early is: Do not interrupt other people when they are speaking. One way to teach a child this principle:
If the parent is speaking, and the child wants to speak to him, the parent should instruct his child to touch his arm. The child’s touch on the parent’s arm signals the parent that the child wants to speak, and it signals the child that his parent will speak to him after he has finished his conversation.
If a parent fails to teach his child good manners at home, he should not expect that child to have good manners in public.
The greatest manner a parent can teach a child is treat everyone with respect and dignity.
Many times parents teach a child a lesson when a various situation arises. If his child stares at a handicapped child, the parent says, “Don’t stare! It is not nice to stare!” It seems it might have been better to teach the child in advance. The following are a few manners that you might like to discuss with your children.
Manners when he walks on the street:
- Do not walk in groups so that you block others.
- Do not stop to talk in the middle of a sidewalk. Step to the side to allow people to move around you.
- Do not stare at or make fun of anyone, no matter how strange he may look.
- Do not be a litterbug.
- Do not mark on buildings or other public property.
- If you bump into someone, say you are sorry.
Manners before he spends time in another person’s home:
- Do not open a closed door until you have knocked and waited for permission to enter.
- Do not go through anyone else’s belongings without asking his permission.
- Do not read another person’s mail unless he asks you to read it.
- Do not discuss the private affairs of your family with outsiders.
- If you make a mess, offer to help clean up the mess.
- If you spend the night with someone, make your bed and straighten up after yourself.
- Be sure to say thank you for a meal or if he spends the night at his friend’s house.
- Do not listen in on private conversations.
- Do not whisper in front of another person.
- Do not whine, tattletale, brag, or say mean things about others.
- Do not ask personal questions like, “How much did that cost or how much do you weigh?”
Manners at the table: Children do not learn proper table manners overnight. It takes years of repetition and training to teach them. Constant repetition and practice of good manners are the best teachers. The best way to teach children good manners is by example. One of the benefits of families eating meals together is that it gives parents an opportunity to teach their children good table manners.
- Even if you have a busy family, you should find times during the week to sit down with your family and enjoy meals together.
- Use proper settings for table even for take-out meals.
- Give young children the responsibility of setting the table. This is the best way to begin teaching them good table manners. Put place mats, napkins, silverware, plates, cups and bowls within the reach of your children so that children can easily reach the items to set the table.
- For small children, buy dishes that do not break. If he drops a dish, it will not matter.
- Demonstrate to children the proper place and use for each piece of utensil.
- Demonstrate to children the correct way to hold their utensils.
If parents begin teaching manners to their toddlers, they will have a grasp on basic manners when they get older.
The following is a list of table manners that children should know:
- Wash hands and face before sitting down to the table.
- Sit down in proper seats and put napkins in their laps.
- Do not begin eating until everyone has sat down and been served.
- Stay in seats without wiggling in chairs, going under the table, or getting up and down.
- Say, “Excuse Me,” and ask permission to leave the table.
- Do not put elbows on the table.
- Keep mouths closed while chewing.
- Do not put large pieces in mouths; pieces should be bite sized.
- Never reach for any food that is not directly in front of you. Ask someone to pass it using the words, “May I please” and “Thank you”.
- If you are passing food, do not help yourself first.
- Participate in conversations during meals, but do not interrupt others when they are talking.
- Do not make slurping, burping, squealing, singing, humming sounds at the table.
- It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about the food.
- When finished eating say, “May I please be excused?”
- Thank the Cook.
- If your food is too hot, wait for it to cool. Do not blow on it.
- If you put food in your mouth that is too hot, do not spit it out. Reach for water and take a quick swallow.
- Bring your food up to your mouth rather than bending over to reach it.
Manners for formal restaurants:
- Do not be upset if you spill something. It happens all the time. The waiter will clean it up.
- Do not pick up your silverware if you drop it on the floor. Ask the waiter to replace it for you.
- Spread your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down.
- For different courses, use silverware farthest from your plate first.
- Do not comb your hair at the table.
- Never place handbag, glasses, or keys on the table.
- Never blow your nose with your napkin.
- Do not use a toothpick in public.
- Avoid the tendency to mix your foods together.
- Place used knife or fork on the plate not on the table.
- Use the tip of a knife or a small piece of bread to push small pieces of food onto fork; never use your fingers for this job.
- If you need to leave the table say, “May I be excused for a moment, please?” Fold your napkin and place on your chair until you return.