They are everywhere… No longer just a means of communication, they have often become appendages that cover ears. Found all over the world, they vary in size, width, color and shape. Some have bling, others sing and almost everyone will ring! Yes, the cell phone is here to stay.

Holiday cell phone gifts must have been on the rise. People were checking and texting at the movies. A wedding was the location for individuals glancing at sports scores and online searches to bide time until the conclusion of the ceremony. The dinner table took on a special ambiance as phones rang and conversations ensued. Laps were the area of visual focus for twitters, tweeters and Facebook addicts in the family room. There was the woman yelling into the phone at her sister in the department store. The car became a prime place for filler-time conversations. With such widespread use and availability, are what constitutes proper cell phone etiquette?

1. When asked, please listen. Movie theatres, playhouses, museums, doctors’ offices and other public places often make special requests for patrons to turn phones to off. Ringing phones break concentration, change the tone and interfere with the need for quiet.

2. Be respectful of others sharing the space. One cannot always enjoy the privacy necessary for a conversation. When space is at a premium or there are too many people, (ie. the elevator) turn off the phone. Or at least put your conversation on hold for those few moments.

3. Adjust all volumes, phone rings and speaking voice. It’s frightening to have a phone break the silence with a ring loud enough to wake those in Australia! The other no-no is speaking in a voice loud enough for others to hear. Keep your conversation brief and speak in a low voice when absolutely necessary.

4. Turn the phone off with loved ones, friends and during meetings. Everyone is important. No one is cooler or busier because they are talking on a cell phone while socializing with other people. Try not to interrupt an engaging conversation by taking a call mid-sentence, during dinner, on a date or even job interview. The call can go right to voice mail and returned at a more convenient and private time.

5. Driving and texting don’t mix. Multi-task at home or at work, not when it can impact the lives of others. Many laws have been created regarding the use and limitation of cell phones. Check your state regulations. If there is urgency for a call, pull over to the side of the road. After all, the life you save could be mine!

Cell phones are a remarkable invention; however, there can be a point when they are overused, abused, an annoyance, a bother, an irritation and a nuisance. EtiKids classes offer children the opportunity to learn the etiquette of cell phone use. Kids learn how to answer, leave messages and explore the manners and responsibilities that are necessary to use and own a cell phone. It’s a social skill for all ages... Set an example for others, starting now. Courtesy is contagious!

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)

Social skills are ways to teach people how to effectively integrate into society and must be practiced on a daily basis to obtain proficiency. Learning the proper way to conduct oneself in public will be helpful when first entering school, as well as maneuvering through the working world. Mastery of proper etiquette at an early age ensures that the behaviors will become innate, as children are capable of retaining vast amounts of information. One is never too young or never too old to obtain and relay good manners. 4 Social Skills to Teach Children:

1) Ask and You Will Receive…
Nobody wants to play with Griffin Grabber! Imagine that you are making the world’s tallest tower (the Freedom Tower won’t even compare!). You use the special arced blocks to create an archway at the base and are so excited to show this to your friends. Griffin Grabber comes along and gasps because HE wants the arced blocks that are at the base of your building. Instead of asking, he thrusts his hands forward and takes them from the bottom of your building; thus, the building falls down, as the weight of the top was no longer being supported. At this point, you are pretty frustrated because there were two other arcs that he could have used for his construction, and you surely would have given them to him if he just ASKED for them.

That skill is important to learn at an early age, as it is extremely important in the years to follow. To a 4 year old, knocking down a block structure is an absolute travesty. Relating to adult terms, taking/grabbing an item from someone else will create a very sticky situation, which can be interpreted in a myriad of ways.

2) Chew With Your Lips Closed
“What am I eating? Sea Food! Get it, SEE food?!” (Show the food in your mouth). Totally unnecessary and unpleasant. When something is in your mouth, whether it is food or gum or ANYTHING, make sure to close your lips when you chew. There is a reason the human body was designed with lips that are extremely flexible flaps of skin that are able to conceal your teeth- even when they are apart. People are meant to cover their mouth with their lips, so the churning food is not visible for all to see. It also prevents one from talking with their mouth full, which is a choking hazard! Finally, it ensures that food does not wind up on the person across the table by the “say it, don’t spray it” method.

3) Thank You
Whether someone is pouring you more water, handing you that coveted toy, or staying late at work to help YOU complete a task, everyone deserves a “thank you.” Thank you is a way of saying “I appreciate what you have done” and recognize that “serving” you is not required. Plus, it is polite to acknowledge that someone has given you something, albeit services or goods. Feeling entitled to have people assist you without conceding gratitude will cause others to become resentful of your demands (and less likely to complete them).

4) Conversations take Two
When you were little, playing with the dolls, animals and other toys was entertaining, even when in solitude because YOU provided the voices and personalities of the other “people” in your play. Very rarely do we see grownups playing with Barbie or Transformers without a small child nearby; therefore, 1 person carrying on a conversation with 2+ people is not the “norm.” Since more than one person is involved in the conversation, all parties must be included and participate in the conversation. That means: one person does not do all of the talking. It is always exciting to be able to say your opinions, but it is very important to listen to those of others as well, as they want to have the spotlight, too. Asking questions is necessary, but the response must be heard. We teach this skill to children and need to remind them that everyone needs a turn to speak. There are 2 people in the conversation, not just one.

Stay tuned for more “4 Social Skills to Teach Children.” Please contact Dear Julie or email Julie at julie@etikids.com if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.

PS- Check out the new Facebook Page: EtiKids!