072: Manners and Etiquette from a Kid’s Point of View – Your Child Explained

“Wait a minute” – I hear you thinking – “aren’t Your Child Explained episodes a Thursday thing?”

You are absolutely right, ordinarily the Your Child Explained airs on the Thursday after a guest episode. But this is an unusual week because I’m interviewing the guest tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4, so that you can get your questions to her and she can answer them for Thursday’s show…

Which you’ll want to do, because returning champion Robin Abrahams, whose weekly “Miss Conduct” column in the Boston Globe Magazine answers etiquette questions with her own brand of caring-yet- Seinfeld-ish, humor, is an expert in the rules that allow us to all get along together.

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact to ask your toughest questions about confusing social situations. Miss Conduct fields thorny questions all the time and is a wonderful resource for you if:

  • while investigating homeschooling your young child, your mother-in-law informs you: “no grandchild of mine will ever homeschool”
  • a friend chooses your daughter’s first birthday party as the perfect venue to persuade everyone attending that her candidate in the upcoming national election is the best candidate
  • you think a coworker might be pregnant, and you want to congratulate her, but you’re not sure if she is or not; should you speak up?

In today’s Your Child Explained episode – a precursor to my conversation with Miss Conduct – we consider manners and etiquette from the perspective of our young kids.

I share an embarrassing situation in which, at age four, one of my boys “congratulated” an overweight pizza restaurant employee, enthusiastically telling her “wow – you’re really fat!”

Kids just don’t have a filter, for better or for worse.

Everyone who hears my four-year-old gasps in astonishment. The employee to whom my son directs his remark flushes; tears come to her eyes.

What do I do at this moment?

Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/072 to find out – and if you haven’t gotten it yet, click here or go to Amazon.com to download my e-book, Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child. It’s finally launched and ready for you to start learning the tools that will make every day as a parent calmer and happier!

Back in the pizza restaurant, I thought about how, as parents, we’re not raising young kids – we are hosting ambassadors from another planet. Our kids are aliens, just learning how the world works here on earth. When my boys were quite young I read an essay describing kids in this way; ever since, remembering that essay has helped me stay calm when, whether through their words or their actions, my kids commit a mortifying error.

So rather than shouting at my child to apologize, rather than embarrassing him more than he already was (for, as soon as the words were out of his mouth he knew he had committed a grave mistake, although he didn’t know why the words were such a problem), I apologized as sincerely as I possibly could, led my boy to our table, and answered his inevitable questions about why what he said was so bad. I helped him understand that it’s not he himself who was bad – it was his words, and they could be changed to reflect his truly good heart.

What story do you have about the lack-of-filter on your young child? Let me know! Go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact (also, send in your questions for Miss Conduct)!

Key Links

Miss Conduct’s Mind Over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette, the book that will help you navigate today’s social rules, is available in Amazon.

Ask Miss Conduct a question over at the Boston Globe Magazine by clicking here; ask her a question for the Thursday, May 5 edition of We Turned Out Okay by going to weturnedoutokay.com/contact
Grab your copy of Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics, my e-book helps parents of young children maintain their sanity and do a lot less yelling, by clicking here; learn more about the book by clicking here or going to positivedisciplineninjatactics.com.