Ok, let’s be honest: proper etiquette for kids can be tricky, frustrating, and even unnecessary in some situations. Obviously, social guidelines are needed, but in many situations such as with family, we are more informal. Teaching them to your children can be tricky, too, but not once you know where to start.
Get ready to get behind the latest updates in the ever more tech orientated world we’re living in. The social habit of sending and receiving text messages has entered the norm, and obviously, certain rules came along which now dictate a proper texting etiquette. The rise of the smartphone has spawned an ever complicated way of using it as to not be disrespectful to those around you, implying proper phone etiquette. These have both come on top of existing politeness rules which dictate almost anything you do.
So, let’s begin with these simpler rules and then work our way up to more modern-day social interactions:
Proper Table Etiquette
Fancy dinner time? You should really know everything about proper eating etiquette, and be prepared for whatever comes your way. It may be that your host does not care that much about what you do when you go to their house to eat, and you should be able to tell this easily by looking at how the table is arranged, if there is a table.
Everything depends on how close you are to those you are being invited to. If you’re very close some of these rules may be skipped, but remember to always have them in mind. Also, it can never hurt to be overly cautious. If you’re too polite, the host can’t ever get upset, and can only be flattered by your display of respect.
Let’s begin with your arrival:
When going to a dinner party, never be early.
Although the host may not see this as an offence, it is possible that the dinner isn’t ready yet, in which case you’ll be unnecessarily putting them in the spotlight. This is rude. Remember that it’s best to get there 10 to 15 minutes late. But only for these types of parties. Otherwise it’s very rude to be late. If you think you’ll be too late, give the hosts a text, or call them.
Don’t be picky with the food.
If you or your kids have a vegetarian, gluten free, or raw vegan diet, it’s best if you announce the host so that he or she can prepare accordingly. If it’s already too late, bring your own meal, and say you’re sorry. A lot. The meal might’ve been especially prepared for you. If you feel like it’s ok, break your diet and try at least a few of the offered foods. Bonus: if your kid is in his/her picky eating stage, reiterate how awful it is for the person who made the food to hear an “eew” or a “yuck.”
Proper eating etiquette.
Elbows off the table when you eat. Use the right tool for the job – the forks go from the outside in. The plate for bread is to the left, the glass of water to your right. Never start eating before everyone has gotten their food. Pass foods clockwise. If you can’t easily reach a dish, ask for it to be passed, don’t stretch over the whole table. Finally, if you need to leave, do so without saying your reason, and say you will be back.
Texting can wait.
Never, ever text while you eat. And don’t check your Facebook between dishes. Remember that besides this, your phone is usually ridden with microbes, so it isn’t healthy. And don’t leave your phone on the table for everyone to see. It’s dirty, and there’s no need to be a show-off.
Compliment the food.
Even if you don’t like it, never say so. Be nice to your host. If you liked it even a little bit, then say so. The person that cooked it should feel his or her work was worthwhile and appreciated.
Proper Smartphone Etiquette
We’ve said a bit about how to use tour smartphone at the table. You don’t. But what about other situations? Certainly there are more and more social situations arising, almost growing exponentially to the rate the app-stores are growing. So pay attention!
Never group text when you need to talk to one person.
It’s really annoying to the others. Unless they are your very close friends and could always pitch in with a joke or comment. Also, this seems like the right place to point out: don’t use Caps Lock.
Don’t make people feel bad.
Say you’re going out with a bunch of friends but you decide to leave out an obnoxious one, your Foursquare or Facebook check-ins should not be visible to that person. They may get easily depressed.
Never text people at odd times.
Many of keep a few friends in the breakthrough call list. If you’re one of them, don’t overuse this, or you might get off that list. Nothing is more annoying than waking up to your phone ringing. Don’t be that guy.
Don’t be afraid to talk.
If you’re having a text argument with someone, social manners dictate that it is best if you call the person and settle things via the gift of voice. Texting can often result in unwanted fights. This is especially important for teens going out on their first serious relationship. Text messages can be hurtful as they provide a mask for the person to hide behind.
Never shun your friends for your phone.
If you’re talking to your friends, don’t check your phone at the same time, and get those earbuds out of your ears. This is the most annoying thing ever for the one talking to you.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out part II where we talk about email etiquette, public transport etiquette, and other cool stuff! Don’t forget to teach all of these things to your children. Who knows, maybe your kid will soon actually be able to function properly in society.