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Little Miss Manners: Etiquette Classes for Three-Year-Olds

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According to the Daily Mail, a public school in England is going to be offering etiquette lessons to kids as young as 3, in an effort to boost "old-fashioned manners."

Kid tantrum

Llandovery College warden Ian Hunt told the Mail, "As thank-you letters grow ever rarer, top restaurants are no longer defined by their exclusivity and even the practice of holding a door open is anything but universal, Llandovery College wants to drive home the message that manners maketh man or woman. From holding the door open for fellow students to understanding the importance of an RSVP, we hope our program puts old-fashioned manners into a modern context."

Can 3-year-olds really benefit from etiquette lessons? To find out, we asked Lisa Gache, founder and CEO of Beverly Hills Manners, Inc. "I definitely think 3-year-olds can benefit from learning this information," she says. "However, I feel it is too young to put them through a program in etiquette on a weekly basis. This age is best taught once in a while as a 'Mommy & Me' type program, which we often do for about 45 minutes to an hour -- which seems to be their capacity.Their little minds are capable of grasping certain behaviors, but whether they are internalizing it is another story. The true understanding comes with growth and depth of knowledge."

Gache, who's offering a "Manners Camp" for kids at the end of this month, continues, "We have successfully worked with preschoolers on first impressions and how to properly sit, stand and walk, as well as on introductions -- where they learn how to shake hands, make good eye contact and smile. We talk about the 'magic words,' sharing and playing nicely with friends and siblings and certain behaviors at school, on the playground and at home. Then we follow up everything they've learned by reading a story. My favorite is 'Madeline Says Merci,' because it is a rhyming book and engages the children."

The ideal age to teach children manners is really 6 and up, according to Gache. "One
reason for this is that their fine motor skills are more developed," she explains. "Can you
really expect a 3-year-old to manipulate cutlery and practice the continental style of eating? No. You can teach them how to shake hands, but should you demand that your 3-year-old shake the hands of your adult friends at every introduction? I believe no. Sometimes it can even come across as too precocious. I say, let kids be kids. It is a wonderful idea to have a conversation about manners with this age group through storytelling and role-playing, but to put them through a rigorous training that requires them to behave beyond their years is unfair."

Do you think 3-year-olds could benefit from lessons in manners ... or are they too young to really get it?! Comment below.

next: Kardashian Is Right: Changing Diapers in Public Is Gross
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kelly June 22, 2010, 8:57 AM

I think it is ridiculous that parents would outsource this. Manners begin at home, and instruction in manners should stay there!

Tracy  June 22, 2010, 10:41 AM

I do not think it’s too young to learn manners. Like most life skills, manners should be taught often and early. I do think it’s a parents responsibility though. Aren’t we supposed to teach our kids by example too?

Tiffany June 22, 2010, 1:05 PM

It’s not the kids who need etiquette school…it’s the PARENTS! Children learn by example! It’s a shame how people are so disrespectful & inconsiderate of others in society today!

BrooklynShoeBabe June 25, 2010, 6:30 AM

I think it is foolish to offer a manners class to toddlers and preschoolers. They learn manners from observing their parents. My daughters say please, thank you, you’re welcome and excuse me after they burp because that is how we behave at home.

Valerie July 16, 2010, 10:29 AM

Kids learn their manners from everyone around them, not just their parents. I guess if you think your kids won’t learn them from anyone else, then they must not be around other people. My in-laws have the worst manners and there is nothing I can do about it.

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