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Louise Elerding: Rule the school with good etiquette

You've Got Manners

Posted: October 21, 2010 10:06 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Using good manners to resolve school challenges can simplify the outcomes.

To a child, some matters can seem overwhelming, but with parental guidance and an open family discussion, the child’s concerns can be laid to rest. Having a solution makes the difference and creates a positive win-win effect for everyone involved.

Bullies be gone
Statistics point out that bullying is still one of the biggest campus challenges today.

If your child is a victim of bullying, let him or her know that a bully is playing out his own problems, and it has nothing to do with your child.

Emphasize that your child was just a sitting target. Point out that a bully has very few friends, and they are using force as a control – trying to make their victims feel afraid. They think it’s making themselves powerful; it is not.

Share with your child not to give in to a bully, but instead seek out other kids who are more like themselves — kids who they can build a true friendship with.

Be clear that an adult needs to know of the bullying actions — tell either their teacher, the principal or the parent. “No retaliation” is the mannerly way to react to a bully. Let adults and authorities step in.

Encourage kids to walk away with confidence knowing that they are the strong ones, the winners.

Often a class in martial arts is a good solution — emphasizing self–defense rather than aggressive behavior.

Teacher talk
If your child needs better communication with teachers, encourage them to ask for a private time to talk after class or after school.

It’s considerate not to bring up personal matters in the classroom, with all other ears listening. Whether it’s something as simple as having his name mispronounced – in that case he can say that his family pronounces his name like this “___”, to being accused of something unfairly done in class – in which case the student needs to politely ask the teacher to be heard – this is an opportunity to tell their side of the story in a very calm voice.

Social situations
 When a student has social concerns, explain that most people have very similar feelings in this arena.

If it is difficult to make new friends, encourage your child to take a deep breath and consider being the leader or the host.

Try rehearsing a couple of opening lines with your child — like “How do you like this new math class?” or “are you planning to play on any school teams this year?” — or “what’s your favorite I-phone app?”

Giving a gift to the teacher to show appreciation should never be an elaborate purchase. Always keep it simple, and if a class is contributing to the cost, be sensitive to a child who cannot afford to do this. Do nothing to make them feel embarrassed.

Set it up so that there is flexibility in the amount of the donation when necessary.

Gift cards are always welcome, as are nice flowers and food items. Remember that making a gift is always a very nice token and should be cost-friendly.

Kindly include everyone’s signature from the class on the enclosure card.

 If you are having a party, one question always comes up: how to make up the invitation list. You do not need to invite the whole class. Just invite the people you have a relationship with.

It’s best to avoid hurting any feelings by sending invitations through the mail, on the phone, or by email. Never hand out invitations on the school grounds, unless everyone is invited.

 When it comes to dances, the setting is now equal. It’s OK for girls to ask boys to dance. Sometimes that is how the party really gets started.

To ease any shyness, have your child make a list of things he or she can talk about, and note that paying a compliment is always a good way to begin a conversation.

Beating cheating
Cheating is challenging from both sides — you can be the innocent bystander, or the one doing the wrongful deed. What if your kid finds himself in the middle — observing some ongoing cheating? Should he tell someone, like the teacher?

We know cheating is wrong, but tattling is likely not the best, immediate solution.

Before telling, try talking to the cheater privately, noting that he or she has been seen cheating, and it could lead to a reprimand.

Perhaps that will end it. If cheating continues in a serious way, discreetly notify the teacher.

If your child is the cheater, support his study skills and explain that making mistakes is honest and reinforce the benefits of truthfulness throughout his life. Make a study plan.

Knowing how to handle issues that come up and feel uncomfortable are the first steps.

Recognizing that putting the solutions in a manners framework, can keep any situation civilized.

Use good tone, timing, and sensitivity in resolving concerns. It’s a smart way to go.

Louise Elerding, is a manners, etiquette and personal-appearance coach, and the author of “You’ve Got Manners!” an illustrated series of children’s books. For information on Table Manners classes held at the Salt Creek Grille in Valencia, and to submit questions for the “Ask Louise’ column, call (818) 259-3961 or email  Website:


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