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I was recently reading a posting on Facebook: someone was wondering proper "door etiquette." Although some responses were "to never hold the door for anyone" and "keep walking so as to avoid any sort of uncomfortable situation," I thought that it would be helpful to know how to handle the door scenario... After all, how else could we help raise a nice group of young girls and boys without modeling the appropriate behavior for them?!

First and foremost, it is always polite to hold the door for the person behind you. Period. As the image of doors getting slammed shut in one's face is not a pleasant one, taking an extra 5 seconds of your time will brighten someone else's day and you will have gone one step closer to fulfilling your good-deed quota of the day. Of course, if someone holds the door for you, don't forget to say Thank You!

Second, let them out before you go in. This rule can be applied to subway turnstiles as well. I know it seems like common sense; however, that rule is forgotten by many. A person has a much easier time exiting through an empty space, rather than maneuvering through a crowd. After the person is allowed through the door, the passer-by-er should hold the door for those entering.

Now, the age-old question of gender and door holding. Modern times dictate that chivalry is no longer an integral part of society. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune (written by Nara Schoenberg) modern etiquette has a twist with "Etiquette for Dummies" by Sue Fox. When someone crosses to the door, the first person to arrive is the one who will hold it open, regardless of gender. A person's age may be taken into consideration.

The same is true for a revolving door: the first person to enter is either the first one to reach the door or the stronger of the group, if the door is not in motion.

Regardless of gender, teaching your preschool child to say "thank you" every time a door is held for him/her will cause pleasantly surprised looks from the grownups around. Everyone will notice "Paul/Polly Polite". Not to mention that young children like to have responsibilities. By assigning them a job, such as "door holder," children learn the skills of dependability and reliability, which will only help them in their future endeavors.

And of course, encouraging them to complete any task, regardless of age, race and/or gender is a valuable lesson to teach children (and one that we hope will stay with them for the rest of their lives)

 
 
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.