The key to lifelong manners is to start young. So young in fact that Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, thinks training can start as soon as a child starts talking.
"You can begin teaching etiquette to children as soon as they begin speaking. Start by teaching them ‘please and thank you’ when they ask for something. When the child is old enough to sit at the dinner table (even in a high chair), you can start teaching dining etiquette," she explained.
"I encourage family meals, so kids understand from an early age what manners are expected from them during a meal. I teach children that good manners simply means to be kind, thoughtful, and respectful at all times…all lessons that can start very young."
Not sure where to start? Here are Meier's top 20 etiquette lessons that every child should know:
1. The true meaning of etiquette is always to show respect and kindness to everyone around you.
2. Use please, thank you, and excuse me every day.
3. How to hold your silverware correctly.
4. How to properly use a napkin to wipe your mouth. (No sleeves!)
5. How to chew with your mouth closed.
6. No elbows on the table…ever!
7. Never interrupt an adult when they are speaking to someone else.
8. Never comment on someone’s appearance unless it’s to say something nice.
9. How to give a compliment to someone else.
10. How to write a thank you letter.
11. You must always help someone in need, particularly if they are less able than you are.
12. How to introduce yourself and others properly.
13. Be aware of positive body language and how to show it.
14. Never call an adult by their first name unless the adult instructs them to do so.
15. Always knock on a door before opening it.
16. How to answer the phone politely.
17. How to make eye contact when speaking to another person.
18. Don’t point or stare.
19. Always cover your mouth when sneeze or coughing.
20. How to invite someone to join a group if they are alone.
For more information on Meier and the Plaza Hotel Finishing Program with Beaumont Etiquette, which recently launched group courses for kids and teens this spring, visit beumontetiquette.com.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.