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Holiday Visiting and Social Manners


Manners are an expression of gratitude

With the holidays come plenty of visiting with family and friends. This is a great opportunity to work with our children on their social manners, especially with adults.


I recently listened to a podcast from the Heights School, an all-boys Catholic high school outside of Washington, D.C., that addressed manners and politeness. It was called, "On Manners: The 'ABC's' of Virtue." In it, they provided some concrete ideas for social manners to work on with our children. I was very inspired and thought that I would share some of these ideas with you all. (If you want to listen to the podcast, search iTunes podcasts for "HeightsCast")


Before heading over to someone's house, take time to remind kids of a few ways that they can be polite and grateful. Children need to be prepared in advance for the gathering and your expectations for their behavior. Also, be sure to give the children some feedback afterwards on how they did. Give them specific praise, like "It was great how you shook that man's hand and looked him in the eye," and specific ways they could improve next time, too.


Here are some ideas to practice:

1. When we enter someone's house as a guest, always be sure to greet the adult hosts. Also, be sure to thank them before we leave. 

2. Smile and look at people in the eyes when they are speaking to us. 

3. If someone asks us a question like, "How are you doing?" they are normally inviting us into conversation and it's nice to give them more than a one word answer, like "I'm doing great, I loved my Christmas presents!" and follow up with our own question. 

4. This is for older children especially: we don't look at our phones when we are seated with others. We step away from the group if we need to check our phones.


Notice the rules are phrased as "We do..." instead of "You must...". The reason for this is that the children should know that this is how our family, including mom and dad, treat other people. So, as always, you must be prepared to lead by example!


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