If your mother incessantly told you to get your elbows off the table at dinner growing up, it turns out she had good reasons to do so. Teaching good manners to children isn't just about showing them how to conduct themselves at a formal dinner; it also teaches little ones to become kinder, more thoughtful, and more respectful in everyday life. And training should start as soon as they're able to speak or sit at the dinner table, according to Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette.
The etiquette expert, who holds a finishing program at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, believes that beyond knowing how to use a napkin to wipe your mouth, every child should know a few basic etiquette lessons, from how to knock before opening a door or how to never point or stare.
"The true meaning of etiquette is always to show respect and kindness to everyone around you," says Meier. In other words, etiquette isn't just something to be aware of when dining with the Queen of England; it's a series of everyday habits to adopt in regular life. Ahead some of the etiquette expert's top tips of what to know and what not to do for great etiquette.
What to know:
- How to hold your silverware correctly
- How to chew with your mouth closed
- How to give a compliment to someone else
- How to make eye contact when speaking to another person
What not to do:
- No elbows on the table… ever!
- Never interrupt an adult when they are speaking to someone else.
- Never comment on someone’s appearance unless it’s to say something nice.
- Never call an adult by their first name unless the adult instructs them to do so.
Read more etiquette lessons for children on Harper's Bazaar.