“What do you say?”

How many times each day do I say this to one of my three children: “What do you say?” Somewhere between 20 and 40, realistically. “Thank you” is of course the reply I am looking for, but of course without my prompting. I think I am suffering the ramifications of my over-prompting – my kids seem to need my reminder in order to say the required polite phrase – be it please, thank you, hello mrs. so and so, etc. I feel like I have turned into a crazy person yet if I try and make myself go a day (ok, an hour) without my nagging – I mean prompting – I am not hearing the politeness I am looking for. I am not hearing the thank yous, the pleases, the hellos. What’s a girl to do?

I was talking to my friend whose three year old daughter is extremely well mannered – puts my 7 year old to shame. Heck, puts me to shame. Tips? Advice? She said she had googled teaching kids manners and found a list of manners for the dinner table that she printed out and posted on her fridge. I have done the same, but made some minor modifications for my house (ie, no kicking each other under the table, no bursting into High School Musical songs – unless initiated by me, etc.). It is a good reminder for everyone at our house (see rule #4: no TV – even sporting events – I had to inform my husband). I have included the list below.

So what is clear once again is how important it is for families to eat dinner together. Not only can you reconnect, share the day’s events, but focusing on good manners and appropriate behavior for just that small part of the day makes an impact on kids’ entire day.

I think I am going to try and withhold prompting again tomorrow – let’s see how long I make it. I’ll keep you posted.

Here are the rules (in their “pure” form):

Dinner Time at (insert your family’s name here):

1 Wash hands before coming to the table.

2 Keep elbows off the table and chew with mouths closed.

3 Always say “please” and “thank you.”

4 No watching television or talking on the phone at the table.

5 Show respect for fellow diners by not interrupting while someone is speaking.

6 Refrain from getting up from the table (unless you need to be excused to go to the bathroom).

7 Don’t say “yuck.” Nicely push away the food you do not like.

Now then, What do you say?

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