Is your 3-year-old a little hellion with no manners? Well. Maybe he's a totally normal 3-year-old. Or! Maybe he needs to take the "Manners for 3, 4 & 5 Year Olds" course with Peggy Newfield. Peggy has created a "remarkable" course on etiquette. Watch and marvel as well-trained children politely introduce each other, greet callers on the telephone, and place cloth napkins on their laps -- the correct way.
Does this scare anyone else?
Look, I'm all for teaching kids manners. It's becoming a lost art, truly. But there's something Stepford Wife-ish about this video. Do we really want little kids to be this sedate and robotic?
Okay ... a manners class for 3-year-olds ... that lasts 55 to 60 minutes?!? No class for 3-year-olds should last that long except maybe gymnastics or soccer. I really have to wonder how much editing/threatening was required to produce this short sampler video. I know it's a smallish class with three adults, but these do not look like the preschoolers I'm familiar with.
I actually like some of what I saw. Learning how to chew slowly and cut with a knife? Awesome. Learning how other people hear them over the phone? Fantastic -- an essential lesson in empathy. But learning the "proper" way to unfold a cloth vs. paper napkin? Come on, that's pretty fussy territory for such little kids. I mean, let's just get them to use the napkins instead of their sleeves, you know?
I think there are two different approaches to etiquette. A woman I know once said her favorite word in the English language is "appropriate." She's kind of obsessed with rules and propriety. Her kind of etiquette is about knowing your place and making others feel shame and judgement. It's about learning how to be polite even when you're treating someone unkindly. It's about feeling "better" than everyone else. Those slobs!
Then there's the other approach: Emily Post once said, "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you want to have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use." Emily's approach is about making everyone around you feel valued. In other words, the best approach to manners is to teach your child to care about other people's feelings and to communicate clearly. I fear that lesson may be lost in the discussion over the proper way to unfold a paper napkin.
But hey -- there's a silver lining with these lessons! They come with a business plan -- seriously. I guess that's how you justify the $1,195 price tag for the videos and manual? Zoiks! Did you know, etiquette isn't just an important life lesson, it's also a money-maker. Or was that rude of me to point out?
How do you teach your children good manners?
Image via AmSchoolofProtocol/YouTube