Welcome Educators!

Welcome Educators! This blog is for you, the Educators. Please ask questions, share ideas and post testimonials about your program, what you're doing in your town and what is working for you. The more we share, the more successful we all will be. Happy Educating!

Monica Irvine
President, The Etiquette Factory

Monday, January 14, 2013

Helping Children through Divorce

This of course is a topic approached with sincerity and sensitivity, but one that is important to reflect on with the idea of manners and social graces. Although we could spend many words on etiquette between the separating spouses, let’s focus on the children and how we can help this difficult transition be as gentle as possible. Before a separation or divorce, it is respectful and honorable that both parents sit down with their children together and explain what’s happening before one parent decides to move out. Children should hear this news from their parents, not other family members or friends. These moments can be extremely important as it is a time to reassure children of the love that both parents have for them and it sends a message to the children that when it comes to parenting, both parents are willing to set aside their differences and parent their children as a parenting unit. To a child, divorce or separation (which to them means divorce) ends their world as they know it. It is usually devastating regardless of the circumstances. However, as both parents make a commitment to their children in front of each other that they will do their best to NEVER make their children feel like a go-between or like they have to choose one parent over the other, children will feel more secure in the coming changes. Children do not need to be involved in issues they can’t understand. Statistics show that even when there is abuse, most children want their parents to stay together, reminding all of us of the uncertainty and devastation that children feel when their parents separate. Statistics also show that children who appear to have the most success and have the least amount of reported trauma stemming from a divorce, are those who continue to have a healthy relationship with both parents after the divorce. Relationships are nurtured with quality time spent together and when visits with parents are without fear of offense to the other parent. As each parent encourages their children to love the other parent, these children will tend to be more open about their true feelings regarding the divorce, new relationships their parents have and other important family dynamics. Trying to convince a child why they should withhold their love, time or attention to a parent is a sure way to cause confusion, guilt and bitterness in children (I am not speaking of circumstances where one parent is guilty of abuse towards a child. That is another circumstance all together that calls for special council and considerations). This is by no means the only advice to offer on this subject. I would encourage both parents to seek advice from people who the children’s best interest at heart and clergy and sociologist are always a good resource. Sometimes we tend to take advice from our friends who have a hard time discerning between their loyalty to us and what’s really best. Here are a few other things to consider: Having consistent rules between both houses is very beneficial for the children. Rules should stay as they were when both parents lived together to limit the changes the children have to endure. NEVER allow a child to hear one parent speaking negatively about the other parent. Children tend to associate themselves with their parents and regardless of what one parent does, they continue to love them. When children hear their parents speak negatively about the other parent, they feel hurt and betrayal by even being privy to the conversation. Please don’t place any child in this situation. Stop asking. “Quizzing” a child regarding what they did, who they did it with, what they ate, etc. regarding their visit with the other parent is crossing the line of abuse in my opinion. Children are not that naive. This makes children extremely uncomfortable, causes them increased stress and can cause them to “shut down” and become withdrawn as a defensive mechanism. Let’s make sure we do not cause any child one more ounce of stress, pain and hurt than is already caused by the loss of the life as they knew it. Encourage them to love their parents. Be happy when they have a happy, healthy relationship with each parent. Allow them to love, uninhibited, so that they are secure with our dedication to their happiness. Have a great month. Monica Irvine a.k.a. Mary Manners

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Got Manners?

"Got Manners" parties are the latest develpment at The Etiquette Factory. These home parties are a great way to introduce customers to the Etiquette Factory program and all of the personal services that you offer in your city. Getting in front of your customers and being able to teach, motivate and show the wonderful products and services that you offer, is a sure way to increase your market, explode your sales and fill up your camps. A "Got Manners" party will features products that teach manners--The Etiquette Factory Products that teach time management--TimeTimers (amazing timers that moms love) Products that teach accountability and responsibility--Accountable Kids And Products that teach money management--KidBudget ( a super cute product that really works) Join our next live webinar to learn details on how to start your "Got Manners" parties now.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Holiday Party Etiquette

It’s time to review some basic etiquette skills for the sake of your reputation and professional future. Trust me when I say I have experience with this (not providing any further details). As we go over party etiquette, please think of how you can apply these skills to both your company holiday parties as well as family “get-to-gathers.” Obviously, there would be some adjustment and some irrelevant information for one or the other, but generally, the same principles apply. Here we go:

Everything in moderation--Remember, a lady and a gentleman, never draw attention to themselves. This would include overindulging in our dress, eating, drinking, dancing, flirting or any other behavior that we can become the “center of attention.” Think “CLASS,” think “HONOR,” think “DO I WANT TO BE THE STORY TOMORROW?” With these things in mind, I think you’ll be fine.

Dress appropriate for the occasion. The way we dress sends a message to those in attendance; how we feel about the occasion and how we value our time there. Consider what message you want to send to your family, co-workers or even your boss.

Never ask if you can bring someone to the party unless the host included “...and guest,” on the invitation or personally told you to please feel free to bring along a friend with you. This is a big NO, NO!!!!

Make sure we honor the host by being on time and leaving on time. First rule of etiquette...BE ON TIME!

Be sure to thank the host who coordinated the party. For family gatherings, it is very polite to take a gift to the host: a plant, a book, a candle, a cookbook, etc. Just something small, but something that shows the host you were thinking of them and appreciate their generosity in hosting the event.

If you’re the host, a few things to remember to make your guest feel comfortable are:
Send invitations at least 3 weeks ahead of time (6 weeks if going to “out of town” guest)
Include directions in the invitation
Include the “dress” if a company gathering
Inform guest if it is OK to bring a guest
Be aware of community events that might affect attendance (LIKE THE TENNESSEE/FLORIDA GAME---HELLO!!!)
It is the host’s responsibility to make sure that all your guest makes it home safely. Meaning, if a guest has had too much alcohol to drink, make arrangements to get them home

Remember CONVERSATION ETIQUETTE. OK People, now listen. I’m not sure why this is an issue that we must discuss on a regular basis, but...I feel obligated for the sake of all our sensitive ears. A few things to remember when speaking to others, especially at holiday functions (remember, The Happy Times), are:
Keep the conversation positive
No, they don’t want to hear about your latest Hernia
Don’t tell a story that last longer than 5 minutes---Period!
Yes, it’s OK to tell a few things about your children’s accomplishments this year, however, this should only take a couple of minutes. You’re family is not writing an essay on the life and success of your little 2 year old Brewster.

Ask questions. Great conversation happens when both parties make inquiries about the other person. This shows your care and concern for those you speak with. It sends the message, “I am interested in you and your life.”

Be gracious. Please no foul language, no vulgar or racist jokes (it’s not funny), no human noises (I’m talking to you DAD), no teasing others. Teasing is actually a big deal. You know that uncle who always wanted to know how many boys you kissed this past year. UGH!!! This is not cool, and more importantly, not polite.

Never say or do anything that would embarrass another person at the party.
Compliment others
And finally, Remember...what’s happening today, is what’s happening tomorrow on FACEBOOK. Beware!!

Have a great Thanksgiving. I love this country. I love my family. I love being an American. I love our American history. Learn about it and you will better enjoy this sacred holiday for our country.

Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

True Etiquette/Being Positive

What a beautiful month we have to look forward to. I love this time of year and yes, I even love football. When I look around and see the beauty of fall, feel the crispness in the air, and hear the geese beginning their journey south, I’m reminded of how blessed we are to live in this great country. I love the seasons, the beauty of the earth and the goodness of people. Well, I know it sounds like I’m being all happy and joyful right now and actually, there’s a reason for this behavior. Did you know that it is polite to be positive, which means it is impolite to be negative. Well....it is!

Sometimes, I want to shout at the top of my lungs to certain people to, “Stop Complaining!!!!!” Yes, I know things are hard and difficult and uncertain right now and I’m feeling those things too, but how in the world does it help any of us to go around complaining, whining and fussing about all the gloom and doom in the world? It helps nothing. I know that there are people who suffer at a level that I cannot even relate to and never will. My heart hurts knowing others have to suffer so. However, I know that in order to help uplift each other and support each other, we have got to become more positive.

We Americans, forget too easily the blessings we enjoy. We are becoming so hard and cynical towards our elected officials, our way of life, our future. Yes, of course we’ve got problems, some very big ones, but let’s stop complaining and let’s become a part of the solution.

Ladies and gentleman are:

1. people who look for the positive in all things
2. people who see adversity and know that this is a time to triumph
3. people who refuse to give up, complain or fail
4. people who are more concerned with their neighbors’ troubles, than their own
5. people who smile regardless of their day, so that they can help others to feel safe and comforted
6. people who look at troubled times as an opportunity to show compassion
7. people who ask themselves, “What can I do to change this situation?” and then do it
8. people who ask themselves, “What can’t I change in this situation?” and then forget it
9. people who know that greatness comes from trying
10. people who know that a positive attitude can not only change your day, but the day of everyone around you

May we all strive to be more positive and more cheerful. Remember, true etiquette comes when our focus is on lifting those around us.

Happy thoughts,

Monica Irvine

a.k.a. Mary Manners

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Attracting Schools

Hello Educators!

I sure hope all is well with you. I haven't been using this blog lately, but I want for all of us to take advantage of being able to discuss ideas, concerns, accomplishments, etc. with one another so that we might all benefit from the knowledge and experience that this group of women hold. Please share your thoughts.

This weeks topic: Scheduling After School Programs

There are several avenues that you can approach a school. I usually start with the principal if it's a private school, the PTO if it's a public school and then I go from there. With private schools, it's usually much easier to set up an after school manners program. I try to meet the needs of the school. I go in to meet with the principal very prepared to "wow" him/her with my knowledge of etiquette, my enthusiasm about the importance of manners to help children succeed at home and at school, and an outline that proves the simplicity of the program. It is important that the principal doesn't view hosting a manner's program as more work on his/her part. Basically, all I need is their permission to advertise to the student body and a room to teach in. The rest is up to me.

After permission is granted, I simply prepare flyers to be sent home in children's backpacks advertising the program. We have copies of these flyers on the website. I keep the space limited. I am having success in separating the sexes in these after school programs. For instance, I offer an "All Boys Manners 101" for second graders in the Fall and a "Just Ladies Etiquette 101" for second graders in the Spring. Remember, the more exclusive the camp is, the more demand there will be. Yes, it will take a season to build the reputation of the program, but after one season, the camp should be on everyone's waiting list.

With public schools, I approach the PTOs. I ask to come to a PTO meeting and be given 20 minutes to speak. During that presentation, I simply teach manner's skills. What happens is pretty cool. As parents sit there and learn things that they indeed didn't know, they soon realize that having some help in this department would be very beneficial. My goal at these meetings is to help parents see that teaching manners is just like teaching any school subject. It needs to be taught by someone who is very knowledgeable on the subject and it needs to be taught in organized, fun lessons in order to be most effective. They are so glad to hand over to an etiquette expert.

As far as what to charge, that is up to you. I usually look at the hours and charge approximately $8.50 per hour/per child, then I add the retail cost of the t-shirt, cd and placemat which is approximately $31.00. That's how I figure what I charge. I run 8 hour programs up to 15 hour programs. I either meet with the children once or twice per week. The Etiquette Factory program is designed just for these types of schedules. As you know, the program is very easily adjustable.

Have a great week and continue loving to inspire children,
Monica Irvine
President/The Etiquette Factory

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Correcting with Respect

This month, I would like to discuss the etiquette skill of correcting our children. What? You didn’t know there was an etiquette skill involved in this? Well, there is. Let’s review our definition of proper etiquette for those new readers who may be joining us. Proper etiquette is defined as, “helping those around us to feel more valued and more comfortable.” With this definition in mind, it is important that we not only apply it to those outside of our families, but that we apply it with our most treasured relationships, our families. As we do so, it will help us establish more loving relationships, including the relationships we have with our children. Now before I go on, I do not wish to address the controversial topic of discipline. That is a subject I leave to the judgement, wisdom and love of parents. However, I do wish to discuss how we approach and carryout whatever discipline we choose to use.

If you remember, we have discussed before that it is not polite to correct others in front of others. This means that we never “call out” someone in public, or in front of others, because this might embarrass or belittle them. If a correction is in need, we simply wait for the opportunity when we can pull the person aside and in private, politely give the correction. This same principle applies to our children. WE NEVER WANT TO EMBARRASS OUR CHILDREN. Now hold on. Breathe.....Let’s discuss the solution to this dilemma. Do our children sometimes need correcting when we are in public? Do chickens lay eggs? Of course they do. Sometimes those little angels of ours are worse than a tic on a hound, however, we must do our best to show complete respect and honor to our children. Please, please don’t ever yell, spank, criticize, etc. your children in the presence of others, even their siblings. This means that you have to separate yourself and your child and administer the correction in private. Sometimes, due to the safety of your other children, you cannot separate yourself at the time. In that case, you will simply have to pull your child to the side and quietly acknowledge that the correction will happen at a later time.

I know I’m suggesting something that will be difficult at times. I had all boys in my home, so trust me when I say that this takes great self control and patience. I can promise you however, that as we make an effort to show respect to our children by striving to protect their dignity, our children’s love and respect for us will increase as well. As our children realize that correcting them comes from love and devotion, instead of anger and frustration, they will learn to honor our words and our actions. No, of course it doesn’t mean they will always love or enjoy being corrected, but they will know that we correct because we love them.

As we consider ways that we can show our children love and respect, I think it will help to simply consider how we would want someone to correct us. Just because they’re children, doesn’t mean that we have a license to embarrass or humiliate them, regardless of their behavior. It’s the principle of two wrongs, don’t make a right. I think this is a topic worth spending some time pondering and considering. Some day, our children will ponder our parenting when they are making decisions for their own children. I hope we leave them a legacy of trust, honor, love and encouragement as we help shape their precious lives.

Have a great month.
Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taking Advantage: A Form of Dishonesty

This is a subject that gets me a little “hot under the collar,” if you know what I mean: taking advantage of others. As I hope we understand by now, true etiquette means being considerate of others. Taking advantage of someone else is the most impolite behavior one can demonstrate. As I’ve stated before, I think it is so important that we are very detail oriented when trying to teach our children important principles. For instance, when trying to teach our children to be honest, it’s important that we use many examples, so that our children understand that dishonesty is more than not telling a lie. Taking advantage of another person, or a situation is a form of dishonesty. Let’s make sure our children understand the different “looks” of dishonesty, so that they can pride themselves in striving to be honest and polite in every way.

So often, we get upset with our children, because they do not react or behave in a certain way. We assume that if we’ve told them to be polite, that they know what’s not polite. However, I’ve learned that if we want a certain behavior, it’s helpful to make sure we have given our children the tools, the words, the understanding, so they know exactly what is expected of them and why it is to their advantage when they meet those expectations.

“Taking advantage,” a form of dishonesty, can be demonstrated in many different circumstances. I will mention a few examples. When we take advantage of someone due to their lack of knowledge, lack of intelligence, lack of understanding, or lack of means (abilities), we are in the wrong. When we take advantage of someone due to their weakened emotional state, extreme compassion or any other condition that makes them vulnerable (weak) in making a logical and sensible decision, we are in the wrong. For instance, asking our grandma, who has a very difficult time telling her grandchildren “No,” to buy us an expensive item (even though we know she does not have a lot of money), is taking advantage of her. Likewise, when someone gives us too much back in “change” after a transaction, failing to give the money back or to inform the person of their error is taking advantage of their lack of knowledge or awareness. Once again, this type of behavior is impolite and shows poor character. Yet another example occurs when we do not disclose all relevant information that someone would need to make a proper decision. An example of this would be failing to give our parents all the details of a planned “outing” with friends. This is taking advantage and is a form of dishonesty.

This can be a very informative and interesting discussion with your children. Most children think that being dishonest is telling a lie. However, as we age and mature, hopefully, we understand that dishonestly can be exhibited in many forms. Discuss with your children using many examples of different forms of dishonesty such as taking advantage of others, withholding information, being secretive, avoiding responsibilities, etc. Allow your children to discuss and understand why these behaviors are examples of dishonesty and the opposite of proper manners.

Love those children by teaching them correct principles. Have a great month.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory