Grandparents Teach Their Grandkids Social Skills

by Donne Davis on September 30, 2013

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This guest post is by Aimee Symington, creator of the award-winning board game on manners called Blunders Board Game with FREE Rainbow Dice. Aimee has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show as an etiquette expert, is a monthly guest on Charlotte Today, and shares her advice on etiquette on NPR and in national magazines such as Woman’s Day and Grand magazines. Aimee has been an international etiquette coach for 15 years and conducts workshops for children and business etiquette workshops for adults.

According to a recent Harris Interactive study, grandparents spend more quality time with their grandchildren than previous generations. In fact, the study found that 98 percent of grandchildren learn social skills from their grandparents!

Being such an influencer on grandchildren is a blessing, but it can also be hard to know what manners to teach these children of the digital age. It’s also tough knowing how to relate to the younger generation to teach these essential social skills, which include table manners, electronic etiquette, introduction skills and how to make a good first impression.

Tips for Teaching Your Grandchildren Manners and Social Skills

Writing Thank You Notes

It’s not old-fashioned! While most kids – and their parents – might think that writing a thank-you note is old fashioned, it really isn’t! In fact, people so rarely take the time to write and send a note via snail mail that when a person receives a hand-written note, they’re extremely impressed! While saying “thanks” in an email or by phone is nice, when you take the time to put pen to paper, you will make a positive, lasting impression!

Teaching Tip. If your grandchild is six or older, you can purchase (or even make) stationery for your grandchild, give him a book of stamps, and teach him how to address an envelope and write a proper thank you note.

Restaurant Etiquette for Kids

  • Remind your grandchildren ahead of time what behavior is expected of them. For example, no running around, talking loudly, and let them know that they must use their best manners.
  • Bring something into the restaurant to entertain them if needed. This can be an activity book or something quiet for them to play with while waiting for their food.
  • Remind kids what silverware to use with which course. It is also a good time to review other basic dining etiquette, such as elbows off the table, napkin and hand in lap.
  • Teaching Tip. Role model the behaviors you want to see, have patience and be consistent. Even play games that make learning the manners more fun. For example: if someone is caught putting their elbows on the table during dinner, make them sing the birthday song or another fun or silly song!

Polite Greeting, Introductions and Small Talk

  • Polite Body Language. Teach your grandchildren what “polite body language” means – direct eye contact, nice smile and a firm handshake! If your grandchild can do all of that when meeting someone for the first time, she will make a great first impression with your friends, her teachers, new kids.
  • It’s nice to meet you. Remind your grandchildren what they need to say after they have been introduced to someone. They should say, “It’s nice to meet you.” And kids should always call an adult by their last name unless the person asks them to call them something else.
  • Then what? After the introduction, kids need to remember to make small talk, which means answering questions fully and asking questions of the adult. For example, they might say “I’m fine, thank you. How are you today?” Or, “I live in Charlotte, NC. Where do you live?” Making good conversation is like a volleyball game, and the ball is like a conversation going back and forth over the net between two people.
  • Teaching Tip. Practice, practice, practice. Teach your grandchildren what to do and then have them practice meeting someone, looking them in the eyes, smiling, giving a firm handshake and then making polite conversation.

Expert’s Best Advice

Make learning manners and social skills fun for your grandkids! You want this to be an opportunity to bond – and for you to make a positive lasting impression on them. One way to have fun while teaching manners is to play the interactive board game Blunders.

{ 1 comment }

Susan Adcox October 6, 2013 at 9:06 am

Great advice! I agree that it’s important to let the grandkids know ahead of time what behavior is expected. Better to be proactive than reactive! But it can be touchy when the parents are around. It can be hard to instruct them in etiquette without treading on the parents’ toes. Luckily my children are laid back. Of course, if they were a little less laid back, their children would be a bit more etiquette-conscious. I don’t guess we can have it all!

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