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The last segment of 4 Social Skills to Teach Children was such a hit, that I felt like it was time to share 4 more! I understand that many of these skills/manners are obvious and practiced by many; however, the reasoning behind their implementation is not always so apparent. As it turns out, manners were not only created as a way to be respectful of others ("Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use. ~Emily Post"), but they were intended to "keep your body safe," which is a hugely popular phrase in the preschool world.

Aside from the fact that your sleeves will wind up stained with the delectable meal you are eating, leaving elbows on the table is a successful way to share your neighbor's meal with the floor. As many people tend to engage in conversations, the excitement level rises during an intense discussion. One slide of your elbow can cause the plate or drink of the person next to you to break, leaving shards of glass and/or ceramic. To be on the safe side, leave one hand in your lap. The only visible parts of your arms should be the forearms, hands and fingers.

2) Hunch Over Ideas, Not Plates!
In a restaurant setting, the background noise can be overwhelming, so people rely on their vision to hear. When "listening" to someone talk, chances are that they eyes are watching the lips just as carefully as the cilia in the ears are dancing to the vibrations of the sound waves. If a person's head is facing his/her feet (which are hopefully underneath the table), it is often very difficult to understand the words, which become muffled and lost in the background. Instead of causing everyone around you to strain their necks in order to hear all of the important ideas that you have, just look up! Not to mention that your spine will thank you immensely... Slouching over your plate puts causes unnatural curvature of the spine, which can have serious long-term effects. Just ask orthopedic spinal surgeon, Dr. Nathaniel Tindel, author of "I've Got Your Back!"

3) Bite-Size Bites
Forks and spoons were created to be proportionate to people's mouths (children-size spoons are larger than baby spoons, yet smaller than those for grownups). The measurements were carefully taken to ensure that people would only take bites of food that could fit onto the fork or spoon. Two compelling arguments for taking appropriately-portioned nibbles: 1) you are 93% less likely to choke and 2) you can maintain chewing with your lips closed, as your teeth will be able to touch without your mouth filled to excess. A win-win for everyone!

4) Eating Utensils are for Eating
Although Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid thought that the fork was a dinglehopper, a device that humans used to comb their hair. However, "up there on land" the fork was used to help the food get to the mouth without the use of fingers. As fingers are often carriers of germs, due to their ability to touch anything and everything, eating utensils were created to prevent the spread of sickness. Use them!

On that note, EtiKids' "4 Social Skills to Teach Children- Part 2" will help them keep their bodies safe (and yours!).

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We have all been there. Perhaps it was when you watched in horror, as a date slurped soup from the spoon that was held in a manner similar to Beast in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." Maybe it was the way that a friend ordered the server around at brunch with such disdain that you knew your pancakes were going to have a little bit of the "special sauce." Or how about the child that walked up to your table and took a French fry? Those instances might seem trite, but they all indicate the decline of social graces. Watching that child take what was not rightfully his (or hers!) without any sort of consequence demonstrates the imperative need to return social skills to modern society.

On January 12,2009, Perri Klass had an article published in The New York Times that discussed the need to instill social skills into [your] children. "Making Room for Miss Manners Is a Parenting Basic" made a case for teaching children manners because it is what will ensure their success later in life. Completely agreeing with the doctors' assessment of a child in the examining room: the behavior that is displayed there is a microcosm and a precursor of what is to come...

Early childhood is the optimal time to educate young children, as their minds are like sponges. Learned behaviors become innate, so it is imperative to teach them social skills at such an impressionable stage. EnterEtiKids: the program presents a foundation of necessary life skills, which incorporate cognitive, social, emotional and physical domains. Children will use the senses of touch, smell, sight and sound to understand and manipulate their environment- a tall order for such little people. It has been working though. Parents have reported that their children are now correcting them; ensuring that mouths are closed while chewing and "pleases and thank yous,” said. Rest assured that these kids would not eat the French fries off of my plate! And of course their parents will ask me politely, rather than demand my assistance.

Julie Blacker is the director and owner of EtiKids, a program that teachers social skills and school skills to children in a fun and developmentally appropriate manner.