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March 26, 2012

Tip of the Week 

Insurance Against Mediocrity 


What it is: Socially acceptable ways of acting based on the social norms and customs of the group

Why It's Important:  Manners demonstrate to others the level of respect you have for them . . . and yourself.  Your manners influence the respect you receive from others in return.

The Problem:  Entitled Mindset

An entitled mindset creates a self-centered attitude that consider ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ phony and demeaning.  Manners become a social contract during the Renaissance Period as a response to the violence and crude behaviors of the Medieval Period before. Lessons learned from the Bubonic Plague included voluntary limitations on one’s behavior to promote the health and welfare of the community.   

Okay, that’s a bit heavy

My point is simply that manners aren’t just niceties that we have to do just because someone said we had to; they are important behaviors that help us stay connected to a community that supports and respects us..

The Tip:  Placemats & Tablecloths

Consciously design different table setting options and observe the natural affect the environment has on your child’s table manners.

Step 1:  Select a common meal that you have both at home and restaurants, e.g., hamburger, spaghetti, etc.

Step 2:  Serve the meal twice without changing any normal table setting conditions.  For example, I normally use placemats directly on the kitchen table or at the kitchen counter.  For this step, just go about your meals business-as-usual, but objectively observe the patterns such as:

·        Napkin in laps

·        Elbows on table

·        Talking with food in the mouth

·        Reaching for stuff

·        Seated squarely facing the table

·        Staying in the seat for the entire meal


·        Observe the business-as-usual meal at least twice to be sure you validate your observations as true patterns.

·        Jot down your observations immediately after the meal while the experience is fresh.

Step 3:  Change something about business-as-usual and observe twice more.  For example, remove the placemat, change the placemat to a new shape or color, add a tablecloth, change seat assignments, change the way food is placed on the table, etc. 

Step 4:  Share the experiment and your observations with your family.  Ask curious questions and ask for input that might make mealtime easier.  Jot down the suggestions.

Step 5:  Experiment again with one of the suggestions, but this time let your family in on the whole thing and debrief the experience during dinner. 


The Benefits 

Collaboration – You’ll transform nagging about manners into collaboration for solutions that your whole family will own.

Peaceful Meals – Talk of elbows and napkins becomes curious and non-judgmental.

Improved Manners – Need I say more?


Related Articles:  Children are Unpredictable,

Related Tip of the Week:  Dissent,

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