“That was the best Friday night meal in weeks,” Bob said as he smiled across the dining room table at his wife, Kathy, and their three kids. “Clean house, great food, excellent conversation, and awesome company.” The awesome company was a family from church. They had been trying to get together for weeks and the stars finally aligned. After dinner, Bob asked the kids to help serve ice cream.
So the 10-year-old pushed back his chair, paused, and ripped a belch of such uncommon resonance it echoed for a long second before he left the room. “Dad, that must’ve been a 9.5!” Bob smiled weakly at his wife, but he was busted. How often had she complained he was running an ongoing master class for bad habits? Everyone has social blunder stories. But if you have too many, here are 4 ways to avoid social blunders in public.
1. Model appropriate behavior.Learning is a natural part of the family environment; there’s no ‘on-off’ switch.
Learning is a natural part of the family environment; there’s no “on-off” switch. If dad belches loudly after dinner, or smiles broadly when his son “toots,” then “monkey see-monkey do” is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
2. Teach etiquette.
Turn the television off, sit around the dinner table, and turn family time into an ongoing master-class in the basics—how to use a napkin, what to do when we want to belch, why we don’t wear underwear on our heads to supper. (Here are 10 Manners Your Kids Need to Know!)
3. Make a clear distinction between fun family time and entertaining others.
Sometimes it really is OK to wear underwear on our heads around the dining table. There’s a time and a place, and “Friday night is underwear night” could be perfectly appropriate for your family. But those lines must be clearly drawn and understood.
4. Monitor social media.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. These are places where the smallest family faux pas can “go viral” and quickly get blown out of proportion. Have regular discussions about what is appropriate and not appropriate for social media. You should follow all your kids’ social media accounts, however, more than likely they have accounts you don’t know about. Purchasing some monitoring software like Bark is a good idea.
Sound off: What are some other ways to avoid social blunders?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it’s important to learn manners?”