When I taught my first Modern Manners etiquette class at the Worthington Parks and Recreation Department in 1990, I was not surprised to see how gratified children are when their good manners are acknowledged and are commended for them.

When I taught my first Modern Manners etiquette class at the Worthington Parks and Recreation Department in 1990, I was not surprised to see how gratified children are when their good manners are acknowledged and are commended for them.

When children are kind, courteous and respectful, other people enjoy being around them they find that courtesy invites reciprocal behavior.

The children discovered that being polite helps people get along with each other. Even in my etiquette classes today I find this to be true. Anyone who's taken children out to eat can attest to that.

Yet, while parents continuously feel the pressure of having their children attend the best schools available so that their child will have the best education, some do not take the time to teach and
model the etiquette, character values and social skills that will certainly play as large a role in the future of their children.

I often have parents say that while they want their child to have good manners and social skills, they don't want to come across as nagging, which creates stress for both parent and child. Parents
then feel that it isn't worth the aggravation and upset at mealtimes, especially. One parent said that "it is like talking to a wall" when trying to teach her child proper table manners. This is no great
wonder because families rarely dine together at the family table anymore. Years ago, when grandparents used to be part of the family household and family meals were held as something sacred,
children weren't so much taught manners as much as they learned them by mimicry. Children learn from the adults around them, so if adults are good role models and practice what they preach
there's a good chance that when their child comes up against a social challenge he or she will be well equipped to deal with it. When people have the tools they need to get through difficult situations, they will have more confidence in new challenges.

Good etiquette training promotes positive attitudes toward learning and applying good manners and leadership skills. I find that etiquette instruction, particularly with children, is much more effective with a third-party instructor. The instructor acts as a buffer between the child and parent, helping to avoid the inevitable arguments, stress and the eventual "giving in" of the parents. I personally incorporate interaction in my lessons through role-play exercises, activities and age-appropriate games to make learning fun for the children.

The role-play exercises in particular, are the key to learning. The children in my classes become actors in real life social situations. They act out the wrong way and then follow up with the right way. By doing this, they learn first hand why it is important to use good manners and how it feels when manners are not shown to them. The children also learn from each other through discussion in a non-threatening, non-judgmental atmosphere, and find that they learn the values of practicing proper etiquette while having a great time much to their parents surprise and delight.

Nora Cline is the owner of Modern Manners www.modernmanners.biz in Powell.