Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Plane Truth About Flying

The internet is flooded with travel specials and more people are taking to the air. Airlines are filling planes to capacity leaving little leg room, decreasing services and increasing charges. While the weekend or holiday get-way can be a challenge, taking a child or two can test the mettle of the calmest individual. There are helpful hints and plane etiquette tips to make travel less stressful, a positive experience for children and an enjoyable pastime for all passengers.

Magic words, including Please!, apply in all situations. EtiKids emphasizes use of the words please, thank you and excuse me in all situations. Remembering to say please to attendants when requesting service or thank you to the pilots for a safe flight are common courtesies appreciated by staff. However, we caution the overuse of excuse me as a child repeatedly kicks the passenger seat in front of them or the window passenger marches frequently in and out of the row!

Define your space and stay within the limits. No one wants appendages flailing, sweaty body parts touching, and aisle passengers leaning to peer out the window, invading personal space. Bring reading materials or work that fit on a tray table. Use an arm rest to help define boundaries. Climbing over a sleeping passenger is a no-no! Gently wake them and excuse yourself before passing knee to knee.

Be kind to your fellow passengers. Personal hygiene prior to flying is paramount; perfume or cologne in closed quarters is not the answer to body odor. Christopher Elliot, travel columnist reinforces this in his column, 5 Ways travelers Have Lost Their Manners. The contributor writes, “One of the most common complaints I get about inconsiderate travelers is the way they smell”. Do your nails at home, not in the cabin of the plane. Keep idle chatter to a minimum especially when your neighbor is not interested in conversing. Turn down the volume of headphones- opera may not be for everyone!

Maintain parenting skills at all times. To keep children happy, keep them occupied. Offer food, games and treats special for the airplane. Keep the noise level of electronic games on mute or lower sound to minimum even when using earphones. Running in the aisles is dangerous, disruptive and not an appropriate activity for the plane. EtiKids' focus on social skills includes making time to practice age appropriate social skills and discuss expectations prior to taking flight.

Children can learn the joy of travel at an early age. Offer guidance and allow them to make choices about what they will bring. Let them benefit from the responsibility of carrying a small backpack or suitcase with wheels. Vacations can be relaxing and fun with a little planning.

I hope the Plane Truth was helpful. Happy Flying!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Be A Host With The Most

Do you love the idea of entertaining but stress once people accept your proposed engagement? Most people don't realize that a considerable amount of planning is required to become the "host with the most." Visiting someone’s home can be a satisfying experience for both guest and host; responsibilities for the host begin by extending a sincere invitation. Choose a group that will have fun together and share a common interest. As RSVP’s are received, ask about any dietary restrictions or allergies (this includes pet allergies too!)

Organize. Organize. Organize. Use lists for the menu, cleaning and delegate assignments. For those individuals offering to bring something, politely provide guidance or assign a complimentary side dish. Prepare as much as possible ahead of time to decrease stress and increase enjoyment.

Greet everyone warmly and help them feel welcome by making introductions and smiling. Offer interests as topics of discussion.

Provide appetizers and/or drinks as soon as guests arrive. Who wants to drive for 45 minutes and not even get a glass of water?

Be a schmoozer and socialize with everyone. Pull those who may be isolated or uncomfortable into the folds of conversation.

Make sure guests leave safely. Walk everyone to the door as visitors exit. Thank them for coming.

The success of a gathering lies in the company of those invited. Although parties often include food, the laughter, pleasant conversation, and sharing of good times are what make the experience gratifying for everyone.

Creating that comfortable environment is the job of the host. Children can learn those skills by observation and practice. Give them a task to perform. Each child can be given age-appropriate activities and are more than capable of assisting in the kitchen. Tasks include: setting the table with some guidance, greeting guests and helping them find their seating. Create opportunities to participate in conversation – rather than monopolize -and practice using their good manners prior to having any visitors. These social skills and more are learned in EtiKids classes.

As Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use!”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest

Being a good guest can take almost as much practice, forethought and preparation as a host. Whether it is an invitation for a casual dinner, formal party, weekend visit or extended stay, the best barometer to gauge visitor skills is receipt of a return invitation. In other words, if it has been a successful visit, the person will be asked to do this again.

A few key ingredients to guest etiquette can help assure that your company will be welcome at another time. While some may appear to be obvious, this list contains components worth repeating…

1. Respond to invitations in a timely manner. No one wants to guess how many people will be arriving, staying or eating.
2. Use the words please and thank you. No one is too old for the magic words.
3. Eliminate slurping and bodily noises. If necessary, ask to be excused and go into the bathroom to release all the bodily fumes, gases and fluids!
4. Be prompt. Respond when dinner is ready.
5. Offer assistance as needed. Try to be helpful if you see the host can use an extra pair of hands.
6. Respect other people’s property. No snooping in bathroom cabinets, drawers and closets!
7. Be considerate of resources. Turn off lights, water faucets, and take short showers.
8. Follow the culture of the home. Every home has there own unspoken rules, take note by observing the actions of others in the house.
9. Remember to thank the host for a lovely time. An appropriate, carefully chosen gift, such as chocolates, plants, wine and a written note, will always be appreciated.
10. Kindness goes a long way and guarantees a return invite!

Everyone seems to have jumped in on the etiquette bandwagon. Susan Blond's blog for the Village Voice offers tips to visitors and a litany of humorous suggestions for the weekend guest, such as feet off the furniture and certainly no picking at them!

Think about experiences that you have had and practice the positive. Envision the type of guest you would like to host and become that person. To help children meet success as their role of “guest,” role-play responses to situations that may arise in the homes of others. Teaching them the social skills at an early age will certainly ensure that their presence will be welcomed in the company of others in the years to come.

Finally, remember to have fun! Clearly the host enjoys spending time with you, which is probably why you were invited in the first place…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guest Post: The Value of Life Skills E-learning Programs for Preschool Children by: Jean Campbell

Young children don’t realize that they make choices every day…what toy to play with, sharing or not sharing a toy and eating or not eating what is put in front of them just to name a few.

Being able to make choices is empowering. That is the function of interactivity in E-learning programs. When a young child has the opportunity to experience the outcomes of making choices and sees the results immediately, it makes decision-making seem like a safe and good thing to do. It helps a child develop the confidence to make decisions in real-time situations.

We teach our children to be safe. We encourage them to share, to be a friend, to play fair, to be honest, and to behave well. We hope when they are faced with a situation that challenges what we have taught them, they remember what we said and make the right decision. Unlike riding a bike or crossing a street it is not possible to give our child practice runs in all the life skills situations they may encounter.

E-learning programs do just that; they give our children practice runs for making good choices when faced with life situations.

E-learning programs also have other attributes that make decision-making attractive to preschoolers. They ask the child using the program to help the animated, cartoon characters to make decisions. While this makes decision-making less personal to a child, it also fosters a sense of responsibility for helping a character make the right decision.

E-learning content is always consistent and is not affected by differences in an instructor’s performance resulting from tiredness or the time of the presentation. E-learning programs are less intimidating, as a child can make an incorrect choice and go back and correct it without feeling that others will know about it.

E-learning programs reinforce what is being taught through engaging the child in interactive decision-making. This reinforcement tends to result in higher content retention rates than a presentation that talks about life skills decision-making.

Jean Campbell is the creator of “Can Do” Street ( an E-learning site where young children learn to make good choices through using interactive programs, games, and activity downloads. There are lesson plans for teachers, as well as a blog for parents and teachers and children.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Promises, Promises

I promise to clean my room. I promise never to spit. I promise to take you to the game.
PROMISES are made daily. A promise lets someone know that something will or will not be done. Robin Thompson, author of Be The Best You Can Be – A Guide To Etiquette and Self Improvement for Children and Teens says “one of the best compliments to receive is that you keep your word.”

A promise is a pledge to oneself or someone else. According to "Why Keeping Your Promise Is Good For You" in Psychology Today, an unkept promise to someone may be misinterpreted or can communicate a negative message. Something else trumped the commitment. Others may perceive one is not responsible or dependable, even if the promise broken is small. Enough forgotten promises can spoil a relationship.

Sometimes a task or expectation may be overwhelming. Responses that utilize social skills may sound like, “I’m sorry I can’t,” “I apologize, but I am not comfortable with that,” or “I just won’t be able to take the time at this moment.” Make promises that can be kept or assure someone something will be completed only if that is the true intent. It is easier to let others know ahead of time that the task cannot be completed, so alternate plans can be arranged. Using manners to politely decline an invitation shows appropriate social etiquette as much as accepting.

Simple steps from to work on keeping a promise:
Assessing the situation, whether taking out the garbage or a deeper emotional commitment, one must ask if a conclusion will be possible. Next, make a list of what is needed to follow through to completion or integration into daily activities. Using a checklist can help one visualize accomplishments along the way; while notes help chart development. Finally, anticipating changes and communicating progress with others allows time for assistance if required.
In conclusion, children learn by example. Unfulfilled promises send inconsistent and mixed messages. Keeping our word builds character and reinforces concepts of responsibility, strong values and dependability. Promising a child a trip to the movies only after the toys have been cleaned up can work. I promise!