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

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

Keeping Our Mouths Clean

Hello friends. Welcome. Let’s talk trash, shall we? “Trash talk” could probably be defined in more than one way, but I think we probably would all agree that this type of behavior is not very becoming for a lady or a gentleman. Let me begin by making a confession.

Several years ago, I attended a funeral of a young 23 year old mother who had left this earth simply too soon. I didn’t actually know this young lady, but was very dear friends with her big sister. Attending this funeral was a life changing moment for me. As I sat there and listened to friend after friend, acquaintances, employers, and family members, stand and say a few remarks about this young lady, I was overwhelmed by their touching memories of her. Every single person who stood and spoke (and there were many), spoke of a young lady who they had never, ever heard speak a negative, unkind, derogatory, cynical or simply unpleasant remark about another human being. I sat there on the pew and shrunk lower and lower as each person spoke. I marveled at what strength, what courage, what love and what an example this young lady had been in her life. Those who came to know her, soon learned that this was a lady who would not tolerate inappropriate talk in her presence. Now she didn’t condemn others for doing so, she would simply respond with kindness, but with firmness, that she could not participate in conversation that placed others feelings at risk. Wow! Now, that’s a true lady.

After I left that funeral, I knew I needed to make some changes in my own life. It’s embarrassing to think sometimes of our own faults and remember the times when we were anything but a lady or a gentleman. I want to encourage all of us to rise above the world, and determine to be true examples of poise, self control and grace. What does this look like in real life? Allow me to suggest a question to ask ourselves before we speak or before we lend an ear to a conversation in question. If what is about to be said will in any way cause those we are speaking to, to think less of the person we are speaking about, then it should never be spoken. This is not easy. A true lady and a real gentleman, never speaks unkind remarks concerning others. If we hope for our children to not be caught in the snares of gossip, back-biting and ugly speaking, we must set the example. This is most definitely one lesson that above all, needs to be taught by example.

OK, so what should we do when our little ones won’t stop the “potty words?” First of all, we must not laugh or giggle when we hear our children say potty words. It is not polite to announce bodily functions. I’ve been present in one too many families that seem to believe an announcement needs to take place each time a bodily function is rapidly approaching. This is not polite in any circumstance. The only acceptable comment that is appropriate on these occasions is, “please pardon me,” and then that’s the end of it.

We must teach our children what it means to filter their conversation. We must always consider whose presence we are in, where we are and what we hope to accomplish before we speak. The dinner table is not the appropriate place to discuss subjects that cause others discomfort or embarrassment. If Dad’s boss comes over for dinner, it is not necessary or polite to inform him that we were up all night with our 2 year old, cleaning up vomit and what comes out the other end. Sometimes, parents of young children, forget that most adults really do not want to discuss these types of issues. Parents sometimes get trapped in our “parent world” and are a little too descriptive about every day occurrences. Be careful.

Lastly, may I speak a moment regarding vulgarity, obscenity, and profanity? If you are guilty of one of these etiquette violations, may I suggest you ask yourself, “What is my purpose and what do I hope to achieve by using such language?” There is no doubt that using this type of language shows a lack in judgment, a limited vocabulary, poor self control and a lack of respect and value for those in our presence, which is the opposite of proper etiquette. Our words are a direct reflection of our inner selves. May we each strive to uplift, encourage, offer love and give support to those we speak with? One day we will be described by those who knew us. I hope we will be happy with their memories.

Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Social Networking Etiquette

Wow. Social networking sites are becoming more popular everyday and providing us with 24-hour communication. As with any type of new communication, it takes a little time to adjust to the new format, and it takes time for etiquette faux pas to show their ugly face in such communication. Let’s address what we have recognized so far as common etiquette mistakes that are made on social networking sites. The purpose of discussing these issues is not to condemn anyone, but merely to help protect you, your reputation and your future. Here are a few etiquette rules to consider when visiting social networking sites:

It’s impolite to have a “me, me, me” approach to life, whether in the real world or the world of social networking. If all you ever post is information regarding yourself, then maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your purpose in being on the site. Social networking sites are about relationships. Relationships are best when individuals communicate with one another, usually with the focus on the other person (if you’re polite). Consider this as you decide what to post.

Never post private or inappropriate conversation. We have to consider who our audience is before we ever post anything, especially to a “wall.” We have to assume that the whole world is going to read it, including our moms, our teachers, our future bosses, or our future spouse. Then, with that knowledge, we must decide whether we still want to post it?

Never post unflattering images of friends or anyone, for that matter, without their consent. This is a real fast way to destroy a friendship. You must ask yourself, “Would I want people posting pictures of me without my permission?” The answer for all of us is of course, no.

Never spread gossip or unkind things via the web. This is so wrong on so many levels. Never, never spread unkind remarks about someone via the web. Whether we like to admit it or not, there really are two sides to every story, so first of all, it’s really unfair to post just one side of a story. Second, as ambassadors of proper etiquette with the determination to never say or do anything that would embarrass, hurt or cause discomfort to another, we simply do not criticize, make fun of, or speak negatively about others, and we surely don’t make a public record of such. This will come back to haunt you if you participate in this type of behavior. I can assure you of this.

Never use foul language, racial slurs or other offensive language on social networking sites. Why? Because you never really know who your audience is or will be. Today, many employers are looking at social networking sites to find out more private information regarding prospective employees. These types of behaviors could literally cost you a job. Another warning is to not make reference to alcohol or drugs for the same reasons. Be careful. These postings could haunt you for years to come.

Don’t abuse your friendships. What I mean by this, is don’t send your friends too many requests to join this cause or support this group, etc. If you’re not careful, you could lose friends if the only thing you sent was information regarding yourself.

Don’t blur the lines between work time and personal time. It is not polite to try to communicate about work past normally accepted business hours, usually 9-5. Unless the company or boss that you work for has established an “anything goes” work hour day, then keep your contact with employers and fellow employees to the hours between 9 and 5.

Well, that about does it. As these sites become even more popular, I’m sure poor social networking etiquette will become more apparent. I think that if you try to avoid the above-mentioned etiquette faux pas regarding social networks, then you will be just fine. Please be careful on the web. You can’t take back what has been engraved into the book of the web.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Cell Phone Etiquette

Yes, I know. I get “fussed” at, too, for being on my cell phone too much. OK, so here’s the deal. We love our cell phones. They make our lives much more convenient; however, we must be mindful of our behavior with the cell phone if we truly are going to exhibit proper etiquette. Let me give you 10 rules to help. They are:

Don’t speak too loudly. Others present do not wish to hear the details of your conversation, so speak softly when in public, or retreat to a place of privacy.
Be careful that the conversation is not inappropriate for “public ears.”
Don’t answer your phone if you are in the middle of a conversation with someone else. This is simply interrupting, which is not proper etiquette.
Do not check phone messages at the movie theater. This distracts others present.
Absolutely, do not text while driving. This could cost a life.
Do not text while you are speaking with someone else. This is the same as trying to have two conversations with two different people about two different subjects at the same time. This is rude and shows a lack of respect for both conversations.
Do not text “small talk”. It’s OK to text someone specific information, like what time a movie starts, or what time you need to be picked up. But if you want to see how someone is doing, have the courtesy to pick up the phone and call them so you can speak to them personally. It means a lot more.
Try not to have loud, annoying ring tones.
Keep cell phones turned off during live performances.
Location, location, location—there are several places where it is simply inappropriate to accept a call on your cell phone; for instance, the library, a doctor’s office, in a check-out or order line. Just consider those around you before you take your next cell phone call, and be sure it is not going to distract others or be a nuisance to those around you.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Skillful Conversationalist

Hello my dear friends. Welcome back to the EF Educator’s Blog, where we master one etiquette skill at a time. This month, we are focusing on becoming more accomplished at entering, holding and exiting a conversation, with manners in mind. This is a skill that all of us, young and old, could probably stand to improve on. Let’s begin.

First, how do we enter a conversation, already in progress? The correct way is to walk up to the group and flash a smile. Then we need to make eye contact with everyone in the group that is willing to make eye contact with us. When there is a break in the conversation, hopefully someone will say, “Hello,” and welcome us into the group. Whoever knows us in the group, has the responsibility of introducing us to the others. It is important to try to keep the conversation on track. For instance, we would not want to walk up to a group already in conversation, drape our arms over their shoulders and say, “Hey guys. What’s up? You’re never going to believe what just happened to me….” This would be extremely rude and would not show consideration to those already in conversation.

Next, let’s talk about holding the conversation. A few simple rules to remember and we are sure to have much success. First and foremost, we must keep eye contact with those whom we are speaking with. This is a hard thing for our children to do, but we must help them master this skill by practicing. It is not polite to look away or at the floor while we are speaking with another. Next, we must use a strong voice, so the one we’re speaking with, hears us clearly. Using a strong voice and keeping eye contact are signs of self confidence, honesty and integrity. Sometimes, we make the mistake of simply talking too fast. Slow down, and enjoy the conversation. When we seem like we’re in a hurry, we can send a message that we would rather be doing something else, besides having this conversation.

Now, let me speak of an issue that plagues many. I know that the second I mention this, all of you are going to think of someone who fits this mold. We’re not working on other’s conversational skills; we’re working on ours, OK. WE MUST TAKE TURNS WHEN SPEAKING DURING A CONVERSATION. If we truly want to show others that we value them, their time and their ideas, then we must make every effort to show them. One way that we can demonstrate these feelings is to not “hog” the conversation. If we talk for 5 minutes, then let the other person speak for 5 minutes. If we described our vacation, then we should ask the other person to tell us about their vacation. In a conversation between friends, there should be equal amounts of talking and listening. Usually, the reason we avoid some people, is because they are conversational “hoggers.” We don’t ever want to be accused of this etiquette blunder. Hopefully, something all of us can ponder and avoid.

Finally, let’s remember how to exit a conversation politely. When there is a break in the conversation, say something like, “It has been really great talking to you about the anatomy of a frog, but I really must be going. Let’s talk again soon.” Remember, while we’re in the conversation, we must show interest in the conversation, even if it’s not our favorite subject. No, fidgeting, yawning, rolling our eyes, switching from foot to foot, looking away, and other behaviors that show boredom or disinterest. And, never, never, never “butt in.” Butting in, causes others to loose their “train of thought,” which is very frustrating.

I hope this helps to remind us the important points of a polite conversation. As we practice these skills, we will show others that we value them and their time. Happy conversations! See you next time.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Combatting Bullying

Hello and welcome. Last blog, we discussed the need to teach our children what the word “empathy” means, to help them learn how to place themselves in other’s “shoes.” In so doing, we hope to teach children the basic principles that will help them to consider other’s feelings, before they act. What a beautiful world it could be, if we all practiced this simple exercise. Well, because there are those who don’t really care about empathy, and who are going to tease and bully regardless, our children need to “arm” themselves with confidence and courage. Let’s get down to the basics of combating bullying.

First, we must help our children to understand that those who tease and bully want one of two reactions. They want us to get angry (so angry that are faces turn red), or to get sad, preferably crying. There are no other responses that give them greater satisfaction. So, with that said, how do we help our children not get mad or sad? It hurts when someone is making fun of us, while others are watching and laughing along with the bully. It’s hard for our children, who all want to “fit in” and “be accepted,” to handle this kind of abuse. Hard, yes, but impossible, no. So what do we do?

We start by explaining why kids bully. Kids (and people for that matter), bully, because they are insecure with themselves. When you don’t feel good about yourself, for whatever reason, you tend to criticize others, in an effort to make yourself “look” or feel better. Putting others down, gives the “bully,” a feeling of superiority that they can’t receive by just being themselves. Therefore, there is an endless attempt to tease, criticize, belittle and ridicule those that the bully does not feel threatened by. Another observation to help your children recognize, is that bully’s usually only bully, if there are witnesses. They prefer a crowd. Why? The more who see them in their moment of “superiority,” the more recognition they receive. Isn’t it ironic that bullies are seeking and needing other’s approval? They just seek it in a really backwards way. As we help our children understand what motivates a bully, the bully is seen more as a sad and insecure person, instead of a threatening, superior being. This helps our children face their bullies.

Next, we must help our children practice appropriate responses. My personal favorite and the one I see that works the best, is to LAUGH at ourselves. We have got to have enough confidence that if someone tries to make fun of us, we can laugh at ourselves. Why? Remember the two responses the bully wants, anger or sadness? When we laugh, we take the air right out of their balloon. For instance, let’s say Robin comes up to me and says, “Monica, your nose is the biggest ugliest nose I think I have ever seen.” My response is to agree, laugh and maybe even make a joke. I would say something like, “Oh my, I know you must be right. I love my big fat nose and all the wonderful smells I inhale. I can even smell what’s for lunch tomorrow.” Ok, cheesy, but it works. I just completely “dogged” the bully, because I didn’t give her what she wanted. Another example, “Sarah, you’re clothes look like you shop at the nearest garage sale.” Sarah should respond, “Yes, thank you for noticing. I love garage sales. I bet you’d never guess what I found at the last one I visited?” Then, Sarah walks away without telling about her amazing find. It would drive the bully crazy. I know it’s kind of scary thinking of agreeing with the bully. But honestly, you just have to remember that you’re not really agreeing. You’re just forbidding the bully to get their desired response. That makes you, the Winner.

Some people think that ignoring a bully works well and maybe sometimes it does. Try it and see. Personally, I like the Laughing approach. This is the best way to show a bully that you’re not afraid, their comments don’t intimidate you, that you have enough confidence that you can laugh at yourself, that life is too short to let an insecure and miserable person, cause you one bit of sadness or anger. Wow, that’s powerful. Have your children practice in front of the mirror different responses. Remember, we never give back criticism. This would not be polite, even if it were deserved. We are ladies and gentlemen and the true test of a lady or a gentleman, is how well we hold our composure in difficult situations.

Good Luck! I know we can do it.
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Company

Teasing & Bullying

Welcome back trainees! We’re making great progress. There are so many etiquette skills we and our children need to master, that it can be overwhelming. However, if we just concentrate on one skill at a time, we and the children we teach, will have a much better chance of success. This etiquette skill is a very serious subject and one that needs to be addressed on a more regular basis. It’s “Avoiding Teasing and Bullying.”

Teasing and bullying others are behaviors that are the complete opposite of proper etiquette. I’m sure if we were to ask our children if it is OK, to tease or bully, 100% of them would say, “No.” So why is teasing and bullying on the rise in our schools, so much that we are having to put into place “anti bullying policies?” In addition, school counselors have to take special training in “warning signs of victims of bullying?” For some reason, although children know its wrong, many are still participating in this rude, controlling and abusive behavior, without much fear or concern for the victims.

What can we do? Well, to start with, we must teach our children about the word “empathy.” Even our youngest children can learn and understand the concept of empathy. The way to start this training, is simply, anytime an opportunity arises that we can help our children imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes, do it. For instance, for younger children we might say, “How do you think that caterpillar will feel if we take it away from its family and friends? Why don’t we watch it for a while and then let it return to its family?” It doesn’t matter if the caterpillar doesn’t have a family, it’s the idea we’re teaching. For an older child, we might say, “Well honey, if you were in Ben’s shoes, and you were standing there while everyone was making fun of you, how would you feel?” Or “If you were Mrs. Heflin, and you had put a lot of time and energy in trying to prepare an interesting lesson, and then someone kept interrupting and distracting the other students from the lesson, how would you feel?” It’s so important that we constantly try to put ourselves in the “other person’s shoes,” so that we can make better, more thoughtful decisions. Learning to look at the world through other’s eyes is a wonderful gift. Sure, sometimes we still get selfish and just want to see things from our own perspective, but let’s try to remind ourselves more often to consider the other perspective, before we make a final decision. This takes practice. Discuss this concept a little at a time with your children, but always look for opportunities to ask them the “empathy” question. Our children respond so much more, when we simply suggest other ways to look at situations, and then let them decide, instead of forcing them to just accept our opinions and advice.

Another way to help our children understand the seriousness of bullying is to sit down as a family or a class, and have everyone take turns in answering the following questions:
When was a time when someone made fun of you or teased you?
How did it make you feel?
Was there anyone else around when this happened?
What did the other people who were present do?
How did it make you feel about the person who was teasing you?

You will be amazed at the interest and sincerity this conversation will bring. You will feel a spirit of healing as each child shares a time when they have been hurt. Hopefully, when your children hear others speak of when they’ve been hurt, and when your children hear when you’ve been hurt, they and you will feel compassion for one another. They will start to understand that when we tease or bully, it hurts people and that hurt doesn’t go away very easily. Discuss why a whole family hurts when one of the family members are hurting. Teasing and bullying can affect an entire family. To change people’s hearts, including our own, we have to look beyond ourselves. Sometimes, we never stop long enough to imagine the long term effects of our actions. As with all etiquette skills, this cannot be just a one time conversation. This conversation or the principles behind this conversation should continue as opportunity allows.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Teaching Proper Hygiene

First, let’s review our definition of proper etiquette: Putting people at ease; making others feel valued; and helping others to feel comfortable. With that said, proper hygiene is a great way to show respect, concern and appreciation for others. Let’s say Grandma and Grandpa call this evening and invite the whole family to go out to dinner with them tonight. What if, when Grandma and Grandpa show up, the family is waiting at the door, however Dad is in his shorts and a t-shirt he had been mowing the grass in (this is often a scary sight), Mom is wearing a bathing suit top and a pair of jeans (she thinks she’s 16), Molly is wearing pajama pants, and Doug is wearing the shirt he’s had on since last Thursday (that was 5 days ago). The way we dress sends a message to Grandma and Grandpa that we are not very appreciative of their invitation. The way we dress, also sends a message that spending time with Grandma and Grandpa is no more special, than mowing the grass. Do you see what I mean? The way we dress sends all kinds of messages. We have to consider, who we’re with, where we’re going, and what is the purpose of our attendance.

To begin, have on hand: soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, fingernail clippers, etc. Then, one by one, explain to your children why and how we use the hygiene item, and what this has to do with proper etiquette. Hygiene means keeping ourselves clean and tidy. When our hygiene is good, it makes us feel good, confident, proud, and put together. We are responsible for taking care of our own hygiene. Keeping our bodies clean ensures that people don’t avoid us, due to body odor. I know we have ALL been in a situation where we have smelt really bad body odor. If you’re like me, you don’t stay there too long. If we’re trying to make those around us more comfortable in order to have proper etiquette, you can see how this would conflict.

Also, our mouths must be kept clean. I’m a big believer in everyone brushing their teeth after lunch. If you work, keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your desk. Children will have to do the best they can, but there is no doubt, the more we keep our teeth brushed and clean, the less likely we are going to run into bad breath and green leaves between our teeth (which is not attractive at a business meeting).

Wearing clean clothes is simply a must. It doesn’t matter whether you shop at Macy’s or Walmart. What matters; is your clothes clean, well mended and free from stains? I tell children that the best way to tell if clothes are clean, is simply do the “Sniff Test.” Obviously, put the clothes up to your nose and sniff. If it smells good, clean; if it smells bad, dirty. If our clothes get holes or tears, this is a great time to teach some mending skills. All children can learn to sew a button on a shirt or sew up a tear.

It’s also important to teach our children, that it is poor manners to point out other people’s grooming problems. We never tease or embarrass someone by saying, “Hey, you smell like you have been bowling with a family of skunks.” We also never comment negatively about someone’s hair. This of course can cause hurt feelings. One more rule—VERY IMPORTANT—NEVER GROOM IN PUBLIC. OK ladies, yes, this means applying lipstick. It is rude to groom in public. It’s just that simple. So, we never comb or brush our hair, bite or clip our fingernails, pick at our clothes, or any other type of grooming in public. Simply say excuse me and find a nearby restroom to groom.

One last thing, this is really for us adults. When it comes to dress, just remember that proper etiquette means we never dress in a manner that would cause those around us discomfort. Now wait a minute, I know what some of you are thinking. This is a free country. Yes, you’re right. However, just because we’re free, doesn’t mean we don’t show respect and deference to others. Our dress should never bring unnecessary attention to ourselves. If we are masters of etiquette, our attention should always be on others.

Have a great month,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Table Manners--Part 3

Welcome to our final phase of our discussion on “table manners”. I hope you have been discussing dining etiquette and enjoying helping children practice these new skills. We will begin our discussion with the subject of “breaking bread”. The correct way set out bread plates is to bring the plates at the same time the bread is brought to the table, not before. Bread plates are not part of a “proper” place setting according to the “Laws of Etiquette”; however, in intimate settings with your friends or family, it is perfectly acceptable. Bread plates are usually placed to the left of our dinner plate at approximately 11:00. Bread is usually served in a bread basket. The appropriate way to serve bread is to “score” the bread, so it can be easily broken for our guest. As the bread basket is passed, we are to “break off” a piece of bread and then continue to pass the basket. To butter our bread, we take the bread knife and cut a piece of butter and place the butter on the edge of our bread plate. Then we return the butter knife to the butter plate. We use our own knife to then butter our bread from the butter on our bread plate.

Now, let’s discuss the polite way to respond if we don’t particularly care for an item being served. The polite way to handle these situations is: we never speak of our “dislikes” at the table. If we don’t care for something, we simply keep this to ourselves. A simple, “no thank you” is all that is necessary to say. It is also acceptable to go ahead and accept the item and then leave it on our plate, although this could be viewed as “wasteful”. If one of our favorite “dishes” is being served, we still only take a sensible helping. We never know, but our favorite might be other’s favorite too. A component of proper etiquette that we must always remember is we must never compromise our integrity. This means we are honest in all things. It is not necessary to say we love something that we simply do not like. However, we can concentrate on the things we really enjoyed which helps keep the conversation positive and shows appreciation to the host.

It is not polite to ask for “seconds” when we are a guest in someone else’s home. If the host offers “seconds”, then it is perfectly polite to accept the offer. We demonstrate our etiquette by not taking the “last one” of anything, without first asking those around us if they “mind”. For instance, if there’s one piece of cherry cobbler left; before we dig in, we need to say something like, “Would anyone care for this last piece of cherry pie before it disappears?” Of course, we have to be prepared to share it or give it up when we ask such a question.

OK, now for the trick question. Are you ready? Let’s see how many of you get this question right. The question is: How do you properly remove unwanted items from your mouth at the dinner table? Now, I’m not talking about something that just doesn’t taste good. If you bite into something and you do not like the taste or feel of it, you must swallow it. Before you answer, let’s not forget our “protect the linen” rule. The correct answer is: we take our forefinger and our thumb and very discretely remove the unwanted item from our mouth and set it on the side of our plate. These items might include such things as a hair, a rock, a foreign object, etc. I know it’s unpleasant to even think about, but we do face these types of awkward situations from time to time. Discretion is the key. We NEVER, NEVER, NEVER spit something out into our napkin. Test your friends on this question and I’ll bet you get a lot of “napkin” answers. Yuck! Poor waitresses.

Now on to just a few more etiquette considerations at the table; before we take a sip of beverage, we first chew and swallow all our food. Of course, it is not polite to make any “yucky” weird noises at the table such as slurping, gulping, smacking, crunching, etc. We are careful to never speak with food in our mouths, even if we think we are very good at it. I have seen people push their food over to one side (like a chipmunk) and then proceed to have a conversation. This is very unsightly. We chew with our mouths closed. When we are not “cutting” or taking a bite, our hands return to our lap. Sometimes, we may be faced with an “unexpected” sneeze or cough. If we do not have time to reach for a tissue or excuse ourselves from the table, then using our napkin is an acceptable choice. However, we do not want this to become a habit. We never take care of any personal hygiene items at the table. Simply excuse yourself and take care of these issues in private. Lastly, it is not polite to wear a hat at the dinner table. It is a sign of respect to remove our hat when we enter someone’s home, so we most definitely want to remove our hat at the dinner table.

Wow, we’re finished. Have we covered everything? Well no, not exactly. However, we have covered everything that would hinder your guest or your family from experiencing a joyful dining experience. It’s really “all about” being considerate of those around you. Most of these considerations come naturally if we are the kind of people who consider the feelings of others. In our home, we try to concentrate on one or two items each week, so our children do not feel overwhelmed. Remember, enjoy meal time. Designate meals that etiquette will be discussed and practiced and the rest; simply look for ways to compliment your children on their progress. Bon appetite!

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Table Manners--Part 2

Hello and welcome to Part 2 of Table Manners Etiquette. Today we are going to dive into the “dos and don’ts” of dining etiquette. May I suggest that you plan a meal time for the intent of learning and practicing dining etiquette. We do this so there is a designated time to discuss what is proper and what is not. Of course, when children can actually “see” what we’re talking about, it helps their memory and this learning environment gives them a time where they can feel safe to practice without worry of ridicule or admonition. Remember, we want meal time to be a pleasant experience for everyone. We don’t want to become the “etiquette police” at the dinner table. I would encourage you to review all the skills at these designated learning meal times and encourage parents to simply compliment their children when they observe them using these skills. We never want to embarrass our children, especially in front of others. If a child is distributing behavior at the dinner table that simply must not continue, the parent should politely excuse themselves and their child from the dinner table and privately discuss the unacceptable behavior.

As we sit down at the dinner table, we begin demonstrating with our words and our actions the proper way to dine. If I may, I would like to give you an example of how this conversation at meal time would progress. I would begin, “Welcome my beautiful family (friends). I’m so glad we have this time to practice our etiquette and have a wonderful meal together. The first thing we do when we sit down at the table is thank the cook or the host for the meal we are about to enjoy. Something like, ‘Thanks Mom, dinner looks great!’. Next, it’s important to honor the traditions of the home you are in. For instance, if the family we’re visiting blesses the food before eating; it is polite for us to participate, regardless of our religious views. If the family we are visiting does not bless the food, it would be rude to suggest that they need to do so. If we wish, we may simply say a silent prayer to ourself. We follow the customs of the family we are dining with, politely and without judgments or comments.”

“We never begin to eat until everyone is served or the host announces for us to please start. It would be rude for us to ‘dive into’ our food while someone at the table is still hungrily waiting to be served; difficult, yet necessary and polite. As we begin to pass the food, let’s remember a few things. If serving ourself, take a sensible helping of food. We can always get seconds once everyone has been served. Hold the serving plate for our neighbor or gently place beside them. Warn our neighbor if a plate is warm or heavy. Be aware of others at the table by asking if anyone needs the butter, salt-n-pepper, gravy, etc. If someone asks for the salt, pass the pepper with it. We always want to keep the salt-n-pepper together. We never stretch our arms out across the table, because we don’t want to knock anything over, get our sleeve in other’s food, etc. We try to keep our arms and elbows “in” and as still as possible, so we don’t bump our neighbors. If we would like something, we simply say, ‘Would you please pass the butter?’ or ‘May I please have the peas?’

“The American style of dining is the way in which it is polite to eat while in America. It is always courteous to be aware of different dining etiquette as we travel to other countries. We of course, will concentrate on the American style of dining. We start by cutting a bite size piece of food with our knife in our dominant hand and a fork in our opposite hand. We pierce the food with the fork, tines down and then cut the food with the knife as we press down on the base of the handle with our pointer finger. We keep our elbows in close to our bodies. When cutting is done, we place the knife down on the side of our plate and switch the fork back to our dominate hand. We place the food in our mouth with the tines of our fork facing up and we remove the food with our lips, not our teeth. As we get older, it is not polite to cut up all our food at once, but while we’re young, it is perfectly acceptable. We eat a little of each item on our plate. It is improper to eat all of one item and then ‘move on’ to the next. Dining is supposed to be a leisurely experience, so please no ‘wolfing down’ our food. As we pause during our meal to perhaps speak or take a sip of water; we lay our fork at 4:00 and our knife either on the side of our plate or at 6:00. This signals our host or waitress that we are still dining. When we are completely finished eating, we lay both utensils at 4:00 with the handles hanging over the edge. This signals we are indeed finished. We always lay our utensils down between every bite. This helps us ‘slow down’ and enjoy our meal.”

Parents and educators, this is a lot of information as you can see. It really takes some time for our children to perfect these skills. Use pieces of bread to allow the children to practice cutting until they feel confident to move on to real meat. As your children gain confidence in these skills, the whole family will enjoy “dining out” more and your children will have less anxiety about being around other adults at the dinner table. It really does take some time and patience.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Table Manners--Part 1

OK, here we go. I receive more questions about table manners than any other etiquette skill. I also receive more complaints from parents regarding their children’s table manners than any other complaint; which honestly, I find quite humorous. Didn’t someone, somewhere along the way teach us that our children do what they see, not what they hear? So maybe we all need a little “refresher” course in table manners and I’m just the girl to help. This article is Part 1 of a “3 Part” series in dining etiquette.

Let’s begin with table linens. Table linens are table cloths, napkins and sometimes placemats. The most important thing for us to remember and teach our children about table linens is…we always protect the table linen. It seems a little ironic that the very item meant to keep our mouths and hands clean, is the same item we are suppose to try not to get too dirty. However, this is true. Linen napkins (including other fabrics) are not meant for scrubbing our faces, blowing our noses or giving ourselves a quick bath. They are only to be used to DAB; say it with me, DAB. Yes, very good. “Dabbing” is when we take our napkin from our lap and gently “dab” the corners of our mouths to dry or remove small amounts of food or beverage. As we sit down to dine, our napkin is folded in half, placed across our lap; where it remains until we exit the table. We never “tuck” our napkin in anywhere. If during our meal, we need to excuse ourselves for a moment; we simply stand and place our folded napkin in our seat, not on the table. Once we have placed a napkin in our lap, the napkin is considered “used” or “dirty”, and we never place a dirty item on the table while we are dining. It is not acceptable to place or blow anything unexpected into our napkin. Think of it this way, we never want to leave any unexpected surprises in our napkins for the host or waitress to find later. This would not be polite. When it’s time to leave, we may place our used napkin on the table if there is not a tablecloth present; however, if there is a table cloth, we should place our napkin on top of our plates.

Table cloths and placemats are also to be protected and respected. This means we never place used utensils or dirty napkins directly onto the linen. We always want to be extremely careful around table linens, as many are cherished family heirlooms. Sometimes of course, accidents do occur. When this happens, quickly act. Sincerely apologize, try to help clean up the spill and then offer to have the linen professionally cleaned. It’s not polite to “continue on” speaking of a misfortune. Once you have apologized and offered to clean the item, allow the dinner conversation to move on to more “cheerful subjects”. Of course, we would never use a table cloth as a napkin. OK, that covers table linens. I hope that helps.

Let’s move on. One of the most common complaints about children in restaurants is their inability to sit still. First of all, we’re not talking about babies or toddlers. Of course “little ones” can’t be still, however by the age of five, children should be able to sit at a dinner table relatively still. This does not mean they’re a statue. It simply means they are not “ducking” under the table, getting up and down out of their chair, crawling under the table, running around the table, rocking in their chair or any other distracting movement. We cannot expect our child to be one way out in public and allowed to be another way at home. These are skills that must be practiced at home, so they become a habit regardless of where they are. If you know that your child struggles with being “fidgety” at the dinner table, bring along a coloring book or a small quiet toy to keep their attention while waiting to be served in a restaurant.

I find that one reason children “end up” disrupting mealtime is: they are simply striving to get attention. We must remember there are two purposes why we sit down to eat: #1; to fill our bellies, #2; to reconnect with those we love and care about. If this is true, then it is not polite for the adults to monopolize the conversation. There should be an equal amount of “talking time” for everyone present. Ask the children about their week, their day at school; however, instead of saying, “So honey, how was school today?” which usually doesn’t produce a lot of conversation; ask something like, “So honey, what was the best thing about your day?” If children feel their thoughts are important and their opinions are respected, they will reciprocate these feelings towards you. Children can also be taught that it is polite to ask the adults at the table about their day as well. We will discuss conversation etiquette more in the future. For now, realize that conversation plays an important role in helping children and adults to have a positive dining experience. The next article will cover the finer points and details of proper etiquette at the table. For now, determine what your family’s goal to dining together is. I hope mealtime for your family is a time of soft words, listening ears, words of encouragement and a lot of laughter.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Attending a Party

Parties are so exciting for children. From the moment they receive the invitation in the mail, to impatiently waiting for the party to actually arrive; it’s simply a thrill for kids. If you’re like me, once you drop your child off at a party, you wonder if they really are going to remember their “manners”. I’m sure as they leave your car, you say something like; “Remember to be on your best behavior”….or “Remember your please and ‘thank you’s’”. Our poor children; will they ever escape our constant reminders? No, probably not.

It’s important that instead of “squeezing in” a lesson on party etiquette right before a party, that we take the time to teach these skills properly; which take a little time. This is a conversation that needs to happen more than once, but we educators will make a lesson. Sound boring, well wait a minute. Get creative. Plan an “etiquette party” for your children; from invitations, to party favors, to gifts (inexpensive), food and games. This is a great way to go over party etiquette while having a really good time. This will help your children to apply what their hearing and having visual aides will help them remember the rules. Let’s begin.

First, when your children receive their invitations in the mail; stop and take the time to go over proper etiquette when receiving an invitation. We look at the invitation and decide first, are we available for the party. Once we clear it on our calendar, we call the host and RSVP (which means to respond please). Explain to your children why it is important and polite to RSVP promptly. The host for the party needs to have time to plan the amount of food, beverages, chairs, goody bags, etc. to have prepared for the party. We also wouldn’t want the host to spend their time or money preparing for us to come, when we’re not. This would be inconsiderate to the host. Once we have RSVP, mark our calendar. Remember we have made a commitment to go, it is important to keep our commitment unless an emergency occurs.

OK, it’s the day of the party. Time to remember what the most important rule of attending a party is: show up on time. If we don’t show up on time, the host might worry, think we’re not coming, and possibly feel sad or mad. This would not be polite for us to cause the host these concerns. Be on time! When we arrive, use pleasant greetings and introductions. (This is a great time to role play arriving at a party. Allow your children to role play the guest and the host. Let them ring the doorbell and go through proper introductions and greetings, remembering it is the host job to introduce those who don’t know each other. Practice).

Next, as your class enjoys planned games, activities and eating at the party, remind them of the following etiquette considerations:

It is polite to participate in all planned activities.
It is rude to complain about an activity or game.
We never, never, never say an activity, a game or even the party is boring. This would hurt the host’s feelings and be very inconsiderate.
We never complain or criticize food being served at the party. A simple “no thank you” is fine. We also never say, “I don’t like that”.
We always clean up after ourselves, placing trash in appropriate places.
We stay in rooms that adults say is OK.
We stay out of “closed door” rooms.
No rough play.
Hands off breakables.
No feet on furniture.
We don’t open drawers, cabinets or refrigerators without permission.
We eat and drink only where we’re supposed to.
If we make a spill, we tell the grown up quickly and help clean up.
When we use the bathroom, we keep it tidy.
We sit quietly and watch while presents are being opened.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that it is our job to make the birthday girl or boy feel special. This means that we don’t take attention away from them or from their party. Just like we arrived on time, it’s polite to leave on time. Thank the host and the birthday boy or girl for inviting you to the party. For instance, “Thank you Mrs. Irvine for this lovely party. I had such a good time and I appreciate all you did to make it such a wonderful party. Happy Birthday Sawyer. I hope your day continues to be awesome.”

Allowing your children to help plan your etiquette party (preparing the games, activities, food and goody bags) is a great way to help them appreciate the time, money and thought that goes into a party.

Have a great week,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Gift Giving & Receiving

Don’t ya just love presents? I do; any time, any where, any size…just keep “em” coming. Thank goodness I married a man who loves to give presents. Sounds like I need some gift receiving etiquette, which is probably true. However, let’s focus on children. Teaching children how to receive presents graciously actually can be fun and very enlightening for everyone.

I want you to try this “exercise” at camp with your children. It should work with children from age five and up. Get a piece of poster board and a marker and sit the kids down for a little “etiquette education”. Start by telling the children that you want to see if they can think of every individual step it takes when buying someone a present. The steps have to be in order. Pretend like it’s their Dad’s birthday, and you want to get him something really special. Ask the children, “What’s the very first step we do when we want to buy Daddy a birthday present?” Kids think…..and hopefully say, “Think of something Daddy would like”. You continue asking what the next step would be until they have thought of all possible steps. These are things that will hopefully be on your list:

Think of something Daddy would like.
Get in the car and drive to the store.
Look around the store until we find the perfect gift.
Pay for the item.
Go to the card store and buy Daddy a card.
Go buy wrapping paper or a gift bag.
Drive back home.
Wrap Daddy’s present

Next, helping your children, put an estimated time that it would take to do each step by the step. For instance, thinking of what to buy Daddy might take approximately 20 minutes. Driving to the store might take 15 minutes, etc. After you are all done, add up how much time it took to do all the steps. You will probably end up with 1 ½ hours to 2 hours. Once your children understand the time it took to buy the present, ask them how they should act and respond when opening a present that someone else has bought for them. This is really exciting because you will see “light bulbs” go off as your children understand why it is so important that they say a really, really big “thank you” to whomever has given them a present. It’s not enough to quickly say, “Thank you” and then move on to the next present. It is polite to look the gift giver in the eye and say, “Thank you so much Robert for giving me this bird house. I love it and can’t wait to get it in my back yard and enjoy the birds going in and out. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.” Now that’s an appropriate “Thank you”. For older children, you can even break down the cost of the item into hours of time. For instance, if something cost $20.00, you could average that to 2 hours of time, if someone is working for $10.00 per hour. Add those hours to the hours it took to go and buy the present and you’re up to 3-4 hours. When children start to “see” that time is money and time is also valuable, it really helps them to start becoming more grateful for the things they receive. It also makes it a lot easier when you ask your children to write a “thank you” card to someone for giving them a gift. When they understand that it really isn’t a big deal to take five minutes to write a “thank you” card when someone just spent 4 hours buying them a gift, it helps them to want to show their appreciation. Enjoy doing this exercise with your children. Teaching etiquette skills one at a time is of course the most effective way to teach.

Very best teaching,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Sharing & Borrowing

Sharing is not just for “pre-schoolers”! Appropriate sharing and borrowing are issues that reach well into adulthood and we probably could all be reminded of “sharing and borrowing etiquette”; so let’s begin. Of course, we all want to be generous and giving individuals, but that doesn’t mean we always have to say, “Yes.” It’s a good idea to teach our children that we want to get in the “habit” of sharing and giving, but occasionally, it’s alright to say, “No” to sharing. We would never want to lend something out that if we did not get it back or if it got broken, we would be devastated. For instance, my grandfather gave me a book of ghost stories that he wrote in the front a sweet message to me. This is simply something I would not let leave my home. It means too much. I recommend sitting down with your children and deciding ahead of time what would not be an item to share. Then, if and when their friends asked to borrow it, you and they have already made the decision and it’s easier to respond appropriately.

There are a few etiquette considerations when sharing or borrowing. First of course, we ask before we take using “the magic words” like please, thank you and you’re welcome. Next and almost the most important, we commit at the time of taking, when we will return the item. Whether it’s tomorrow, next Friday or “when the cows come home”; we still make a commitment. This helps the person lending the item to feel more secure and comfortable, knowing that the item will be returned and when. Once you make this commitment, YOU MUST KEEP IT. This is where integrity “comes in”. In order to be trustworthy, we must be trusted. One way we can develop the characteristics of integrity and honor is to do what we say we will do. Have you ever lent something to someone and assumed they would return it quickly and then months later, you run into them and they are still wearing or using your item. All of a sudden, you feel awkward around them and next thing you know, you are feeling anger and resentment. I have seen friendships lost and feelings really hurt as a result of “poor borrowing etiquette”. The most important thing to consider when borrowing is: take extreme care of whatever you borrow. You want to return the item in “as good” or better condition than when you borrowed it. Return the item “in person”, never giving the item to someone else to return. Lastly, never lend something that does not belong to you.

These etiquette considerations will help your children and you feel better about sharing and borrowing. Of course, as our children get older, their “toys” get more expensive. Instead of dolls and trucks, they have i-pods and cell phones. Please, please teach your children that it is not wise to borrow these expensive items from their friends. Too often, something unexpected “goes wrong” and then, not only do you have children upset; parents are upset too.

If I could spend just a moment on the topic of borrowing money from others; for all our benefit. Today, due to economic pressures, people are more tempted to borrow money from their friends and family. Although it is wonderful when family and friends can help their loved ones during financial “hard times”, specific considerations must be considered to ensure relationships will not be threatened. As written above, one of the most important things to remember when borrowing or lending money is to establish a time, means and place when the money will be returned. Discuss if there will be any interest attached. Discuss what happens if the money can not be returned. After this commitment of repayment has been established, keep your word. If some unseen emergency happens after the arrangements have been made that prevents you from returning the money on time, let the “lender” know as soon as possible. Be careful borrowing money from others. Relationships are too important to risk being broken.

Have a great month,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

The Big "No" Word

This is an example of a lesson I do for parents:

Go with me for a moment to the land of “make believe” and just imagine this situation: Your child comes into the kitchen and excitedly says, “Hey Mom. David just called and asked if I could go to the Zoo with him tomorrow. He said they have an extra ticket, so can I go?” You reply, “I’m sorry honey, you’ve got a dentist appointment tomorrow that we really need to keep, so you’ll have to decline his offer this time.” Your child replies, “Oh well, I understand Mom. Thanks for thinking about it.” Your child then turns and goes to call David to inform him he can’t go. Can you imagine this situation ever occurring within the walls of your home? Is it possible for us to teach our children how to accept the word, “No” graciously? Am I from Mars?

Well, just so you know, yes we can teach our children how to accept the word, “No” with grace. You have to admit, none of us like to hear the word, “No”. Frankly, I hate that word. However, we have all learned over time that sometimes “No” is a good thing and many times it is necessary. So how do we teach our children how to handle this? We start by forming a trusting, loving, secure relationship with our children. Often times, we as parents are in such a hurry or maybe even irritated at our children, that we don’t take the time to explain why we use the word, “No”. Teaching moments are best accomplished when emotions are not tied up in the moment. For instance, trying to teach our child why we say, “No” at the very moment we just said, “No” to something they really wanted to do, is not the proper time to teach. Our child wouldn’t be prepared to listen because they would be too preoccupied that we just ruined their life. A better time would be when we’re “tucking” them in at night or maybe when we’re taking a walk through the neighborhood. Let me give you an example that might help us begin this ongoing conversation with our children:

“Honey, do you know how much I love to watch you have fun? Well, I love it. One of the greatest things about being your parent is watching you enjoy life and getting to do things that bring you happiness. Sometimes, I know you’re disappointed when I say, “No” to you. I hope you know that when I use the word, “No”, I always have a reason. As your parent; I have the responsibility of keeping you safe, keeping you healthy and helping you to gain wisdom, so you can have a happy productive life. That means that sometimes I have to say, “No” in order to fulfill my responsibility as your parent. I need you to respect the responsibility that I have for you, by learning how to accept the word, “No” graciously. This means that you will accept my decisions without whining, crying, pouting, asking more than once or any other impolite response. I know it’s difficult to hear the word, “No”. It’s difficult for me to hear it as well. I’m so proud of the way you are trying to become more responsible. Thank you for listening to me and for your willingness to “work on” this skill.”

Obviously, you might have to adjust the previous example depending on the age of your children. But, I assure you that talking to our children with respect for them; will in return teach them to show us the same respect. No one likes to be demanded, and I think children get so exhausted being “demanded” all day long. I’m not saying don’t stand firm in our convictions with regards to our children or our family rules; but talking to our children with love and concern evident, increases the love and devotion our children have for us. This can’t happen just once, but needs to be an ongoing conversation. Enjoy and love your children. May we succeed in this sacred responsibility.

Have a great month,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Accepting Apologies Graciously

Another consideration regarding apologies is; accepting apologies graciously. This is not always easy, even for “grown-ups”. However, acquiring this skill is important and can bring such peace into our lives. How do we do it? We start by saying, “Thank you for your apology. I’m OK. You didn’t mean to bump into me.” And then, MOVE ON. That’s really the key; moving on. Moving on means, letting it go. You haven’t “let it go” if your still sulking, pouting, angry or if you continue to bring it up over time. Either you accept the apology or you don’t. If our goal is to make those around us more comfortable and feel more valued, then it is only reasonable to “see” why accepting apologies are polite. We don’t want to make others feel bad for their mistakes (unless you’re trying to punish them by making them feel bad, which is another topic all together). Be sincere with your apologies and be gracious when you accept other’s apologies. Now it’s time to role play with your kids. This is so fun. Have your children come up with different situations, like building a tower of blocks and another child knocks it over or one child takes the other child’s seat. Let them practice apologizing and accepting the apologies. You will laugh and they will learn. Practice makes perfect.

Have a great day,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory


What happens when we are the one who makes a mistake? For instance; when we accidentally bump into someone or worse yet, spill something on someone. The polite response is of course, “I’m sorry that I bumped into you. Are you O.K.?” or “I’m so sorry I spilt that on you. May I offer to have your slacks cleaned? I insist.” A quick, polite, sincere apology is usually all it takes to restore someone and “make peace” between you. What’s not polite? It’s not polite to blame others for our mistakes or to make excuses for them either. Children tend to be “master minds” at this. Don’t you wish they could put that much thought and effort into their behavior rather than excuses for their behavior? Regardless, we as parents and educators must not allow our children to develop these impolite habits. Taking responsibility for our own actions is the first step in becoming responsible trustworthy adults.

Sometimes it’s hard to admit that we have made a mistake. It can be embarrassing. Many children and even some adults believe that blaming others or making excuses; help make the embarrassment go away. As we remind our children of the definition of proper etiquette, “to help others feel comfortable and valued”, we encourage them to measure this definition against their behavior. Doing this consistently, will help train your children to ask themselves, “How does my behavior affect others?” and hopefully this will grow into a greater awareness of those around them.

Have another great week,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory


Let’s discuss making mistakes. We all have plenty of examples of when we’ve made mistakes. We all “goof up”, even grown-ups, not intentional of course. Proper etiquette when someone makes a mistake is to be considerate and kind and help the person not to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. The #1 rule of good manners is to be courteous to others. If you are thoughtful of how others feel, you won’t ever have any problems with your manners. It is important to realize that our behavior can have an effect on other people. Let’s say that Mom comes to the dinner table with a new casserole that she has made. We take a bite and “yuck!” It’s really bad. How do we handle it? Well, there’s a little word we need to teach our children called, “tact.” Tact is not lying. It is simply finding something positive to say in an awkward or uncomfortable situation, keeping other’s feelings in mind before you speak. For instance, we could say to Mom, “Mom, thank you so much for always trying to find new things that we might like.” See, no lie, found the positive. Using tact, spared Mom’s feelings and diffused (made it less intense), what might have been an uncomfortable situation. A great way to introduce tact to your children is to have all of them draw a picture of their favorite activity (or animal, or anything). Then, one by one, hold up the pictures and encourage your children who didn’t draw the picture, to find positive things to say about it; like, “Wow, you really used color well in this picture” or “I like what you did with your hair. It looks really cool”. Simple ways to teach your children that tact means looking for the positive and sparing other’s feelings in sometimes “sticky” situations. Have fun and enjoy the time with you kids.

Have a wonderful day,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory


We’ve talked greetings, so now let’s move on. Another important part of greetings is introductions (telling or being told someone’s name). Why should we learn another person’s name? Well, let’s remember how we felt the last time we ran into someone whom we had previously met, and they came up and said, “Hi, Mrs. Irvine. It’s so good to see you again. Remember, I’m Duncan’s friend, and he introduced us at the fund raiser last week.” Wow. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “I can’t believe he remembers my name…that’s so cool…now if only I could remember his name I wouldn’t feel so bad!” We’ve all been there, and I would be lying if I said I have perfected the art of remembering other’s names. What I can tell you is that remembering names is a skill we can all practice and probably improve on. Here’s a great way to help your children along with yourself improve with “name remembering”. When you are being introduced to someone; be quiet, listen, repeat their name three times to yourself, then say it back to the person, “Hi John, it’s very nice to meet you.” If no one is there to introduce you, be brave, introduce yourself—“Hi, I’m Sawyer.” Remember, it is your job to introduce people who do not know each other. A question I get from a lot of parents today is, “Is it O.K. for my child to call my adult friends by their first name?” The answer is; it is polite to use Mr. and Mrs. to all adults unless otherwise told. Of course, if your best friend is with your family so much that they wish for your children to call them by their first name, that’s perfectly O.K. But, it should be brought up by your friend and discussed with the parents to make sure everyone is comfortable with it. What if a person makes a mistake when saying your name? The polite thing is not to correct, you don’t want to embarrass them. In private, you can say something like, “I don’t mean to embarrass you, but you called me Spike, and I prefer to be called Karen.” Discuss with your children the importance of proper introductions. This is another great “role playing” assignment. Children enjoy coming up with “crazy” names and then seeing who can make it through the whole introduction process with a straight face. Try it.

Have a great week!
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory


Hello and welcome. What happens when we say, “Hello” to someone? Well, a couple of things actually. Number one; we stop “our life” for just a moment to take the time to say to another through a little word (hello, hi), that are life is not so busy, not so crazy, or that I’m not so self-absorbed, that I can’t take a moment to recognize you. That’s all, just a moment. But in that moment, we relay a very important message. A message that tells another, “You are important and I see you”. Simple, right? Number two; we begin a conversation with “well wishes”. That’s the definition for a greeting; well wishes. Beginning a conversation or a meeting with others with an appropriate greeting helps put others at ease and encourages feelings of deference with one another. Another way to show deference (polite respect) to others is to stand when we greet one other. Discuss with your children why we greet one another and when good times to greet someone are (like greeting their teacher when walking into class in the mornings and when grandparents or other adults enter into a room). Wouldn’t it be marvelous to witness our children as they stopped playing their video game, stood and walked over to Grandma as she entered the room and said, “Hi Grandma. I’m so glad you’re here. Come sit by me.” What feelings of love and appreciation Grandma would feel with such a welcome. I’ve found that the best way to help children learn this and most techniques is to role play. Role play the “right way” to greet someone and have some laughs as you role play the “wrong way”. Let your child play both the Grandma, Dad, teacher, etc. and then let them play the child. This actually can be a lot of fun and let your children come up with different situations that might be fun. For instance, have you ever walked into a restaurant and no one ever speaks to you or what about the “horror” of going to a party and walking in and no one saying “hello”. Yikes, that makes all of us weak in the knees. Just remember, learning proper etiquette is important but if kids are going to remember a new skill, they must practice it. Enjoy those children and have fun saying, “Hello”.


Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Why is Teaching Manners Important?

Hello Educators! Welcome to The Etiquette Factory Educator’s blog, a blog written for the purpose of helping you teach children great manners to ensure their future success. Why Etiquette? I bet if we asked our children if they can remember a time when they felt embarrassed, they could probably remember more than once. Next, if we asked them how did the people around them respond, we would get answers like; laughed at, pointed at, ridiculed but hopefully some support as well. Making people feel comfortable is a big reason we use good manners. Another great reason for learning good manners is that it shows you are concerned about other people and you care about their feelings. Remember when you tripped and fell while walking down the hall at school (some of us do)? If those around us had been taught in the “art of etiquette”, they would have known that the appropriate response was to bend down and offer help. Next, they might have said something like, “I’m sorry you fell, you should have seen the skid marks I left the last time I fell”. They would have know that proper etiquette means helping others feel comfortable and by doing, feelings of empathy, personal characteristics such as integrity and sincerity begin to grow and expand into feelings of self worth and self confidence. I promise you, that as we train our children in the art of etiquette, we will see qualities like; integrity, empathy, compassion, sincerity and self worth accumulate into their character, which will help them on the road to a successful life both personally and professionally. Join me as we discuss lessons on etiquette and great ideas to reinforce these lessons during our camps and classes in a fun, positive way. Games, role playing and kind discussion are at the heart of teaching.


Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

Monday, January 10, 2011

Finding a Location for My Camps

Hello Educators!
Finding a location is actually one of the easier parts of starting your camps. There's really a lot of options. Let me give you some examples: churches, libraries, restaurant banquet rooms, party rooms at businesses, hotels, dance studios, karate studios, retail stores that focus on children, fitness gyms, YMCA's, etc. Basically, you just need a room. A room big enough for 10 to 12 children to move around and play and have a great time and a bathroom (very important). You will need access to a table that will sit all your students (sometimes I bring the table myself), but most of these facilities have tables and chairs.

Why is it easy to find a space? Well, when a business decides to host your etiquette camp, they are increasing the traffic into their place of business. People who might not ever visit their facility, now will. It's also very nostalgic to host such a community event as an etiquette camp for children. You will be advertising their place of business, as you advertise the camp.

I would suggest you visit these places first, to make sure their facility is appropriate. Your attitude, dress and demeanor will send a message to the owner of what type of activity you want to offer. Be professional, grateful and excited and your enthusiasm will "rub off" on the facility owner. I usually use the statement, "My business is looking for just the right place to host our summer camps (or other camps), which are hugely popular and always in high demand. Would it help your business to have some unexpected traffic come in and become familiar with your facility (or place of business)." I also request sometimes for the facility to offer a coupon that I can give my parents to ensure that they not only visit, but use their facility. It's a win, win opportunity for both of us.