• Give directions in the positive. For example, "Please take your elbows off the table" rather than "Don't put your elbows on the table."
•Praise success. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way in strengthening a child's desire to do well.
• Verbalize your expectations. "We are having dinner at Grandma's house tonight. I expect you to sit and the table, eat with a fork, and use a quiet voice." Children generally desire to live up to Mom and Dad's expectations.
• With younger children, focus on one manner at a time. Concentrate on table manners then move to phone etiquette.
•Be tolerant of lapses but don't overlook them. Use slip ups as teachable moments.
• Make it fun! When my boys were little, I would pretend to be the rude friend that came for lunch and broke every rule in the book; elbows on the table, speaking with my mouth full, napkin left on the table, reaching across others for food. The boys would laugh themselves silly. Then we'd talk about what a polite guest looks like as compared to the rude friend.
Make polite manners part of what your family does everyday. You'll know the lessons are paying off when you hear from a friend, "Your child is so polite." Who knows, your child may be invited to dine at the White House one day.