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Christmas etiquette for kids

9 December
Posted by:
Michael Grose

“Remember your manners. Be polite and say thank you when someone gives you something!”

This was my mother speaking all those years ago, but it could be any of a million mums reminding their kids to mind their P’s & Q’s.

It can be nerve-wracking as a parent, as children’s use of manners are usually a direct reflection our own manners.

Christmas is exciting for most kids. The gift-getting, treats and parties is full-on. Many kids experience a different set of social circumstances at Christmas than they have throughout the year. They may meet relatives they rarely see; go to unfamiliar places; and often make multiple visits in a day. Kids from separated families often get a double dose of gifts, dinners and relatives.

But Christmas is a time when kids’ manners are sorely tested. Parents and guardians need to be mindful of Christmas etiquette as our kids enjoy the festive season.

Christmas etiquette revolves around four area:

1. Party manners: Parties require kids to share, to hold a conversation or play well with others and to fit in with what the host wants. Help kids understand what’s expected when they go out. Simple social graces such as refraining from gulping food down is a good place to start.

2. Receiving gifts: This is a biggie! What to say when you open a gift and you find it’s not to your liking! Hold your tongue, find out who gave it to you and say thank you..............with eye contact. Lots of presents means lots of thank you.....and kisses and hugs.

3. Family gatherings: Having to put up with the kisses and hugs from that weird aunt can be enough to turn most kids off! But good mannered kids take their cues from others and will put up with well-intentioned relatives. Using names and making eye contact when kids speak are good social skills as well. Using a knife and fork when they eat their Christmas meal is also a basic social skill that some kids lack.

4. Celebrating with friends: Our multi-cultural society means that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Perhaps they can help these friends to feel included at this time of year by giving them a holiday card or gift so they don’t feel left out.

Teaching etiquette and social graces to children and young people is done in four ways:

1. Modelling: Kids need to see you being polite & considerate of different social situations.
2. Reminding: Some need a reminder of how to behave before going out.
3. Practicing: You need to practise or role play good manner and social skills such as greeting others.
4. Cueing: Some kids need to be quietly cued about doing the right thing when they forget. No fuss or embarrassment. Just a reminder how they should behave.

Help your kids reflect well on you in social situations this Christmas.

Check out more ideas to help your kids behave at 

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