October “Pop-up” Train The Trainer

Don’t want to wait until May 2013 to be trained by Emily Post?  Now you don’t have to!

We are excited to announce a “pop-up” Children’s Train The Trainer session October 22nd-24th, 2012 in Burlington, VT.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, after school program coordinator or an etiquette professional, our program prepares you to teach etiquette to children according to their developmental age groups: ages two to four, five to seven, eight to twelve, and teens.

During our intensive three-day training, participants learn how to teach a comprehensive children’s etiquette curriculum using our training modules. Attendees also gain knowledge about how to build a successful children’s etiquette program. Graduates may market themselves as “Trained by The Emily Post Institute.”

The Principles Are Indeed Universal!

I just returned from an amazing trip to El Salvador. I had the opportunity to visit a small village in the mountains northeast of San Salvador and once again came to realize the universality of the fundamental principles essential to all relationships and on which etiquette is based. While we had little in common, I found the opportunity to connect with the folks in the village. We didn’t speak each others language – at least the languages of Spanish and English – but we clearly spoke the common language of respect and consideration!

Magic words were easy. I had learned to say them in Spanish. Greetings – handshakes and hugs – were also easy. But also easy and definitely natural – just sitting and paying attention to each other, listening even without total comprehension,sharing a meal,  and most of all SMILING left us knowing we had a new friend indeed.

So – Muchas gracias mi amigos! Mucho gusto y adios para ahora! (So – many thank you my friends! I’m pleased to have met you and goodbye for now!)

A new friend

Sharing a meal


Essential Social Skills – Conversation 101

A cornerstone of social interaction is good conversation and a building block of good conversation is language acquisition.  Helping your toddler gain language skills is one of your most important tasks as a parent. Things you can do include:

  • Talking with your child. She can’t learn what she doesn’t hear. Just chat about the day, name things and people, and ask rhetorical questions (even if they can’t answer yet, your child will experience the back and forth nature of conversation).
  • Be descriptive. This gives you the opportunity to introduce many simple words that will expand your child’s vocabulary.
    • Describe things by color, shape, position, and direction.
    • Use a variety of action verbs.
    • Introduce words and terms that express time.
    • Give your child the words to express feelings and needs.
  • Model correct speech. Once your child starts talking, it’s time to drop the “baby talk”. Actually, “baby talk” can be dropped before it has begun. Right from the get go it helps your child develop good speech if he hears correct speech all the time.

One of the best ways to help your toddler build his communication skills is by reading together (not just reading to him). Encourage participation by asking him to point out objects in picture books. While he is not saying the words, he is learning their meanings. Cuddling up for a story is part of many nap and bedtime rituals, but include some daytime reading so that your child learns reading is an activity and not just a soother.

Don’t rely on television to teach. Even the best children’s programming is like half of a conversation. There is no feedback with the TV set, so there is no interaction. Some exposure can help reinforce a toddler’s language skills, but television is no substitute for talking and reading.

One of my great joys as a parent was talking with my kids. Even when they were infants and toddlers we would “talk” all the time. As they grew older and could contribute more to the conversation I obviously enjoyed it even more. But the times we spent “talking” before they could speak set us up for hours of conversation throughout their childhood and teen years.

Heading to summer camp

Saluting the flag at summer camp

School’s out! Now is the time many kids head off to summer camp. Some camps are specialty camps: horse back riding, sailing, hiking, church camps, music, or  “you name it!” And some camps are just general summer camps with time on the waterfront, arts and crafts, team games, field trips, or “you name it!” Whatever the camp, there are some things you can do to help your child prepare for the best camping experience ever.

One of those things is to encourage your camper to create a camp correspondence kit. Unless the camp has a computer focus, it is unlikely your child will be communicating electronically. A great treat at camp is that time of day when there is mail call. If your child wants to receive mail, he/she should be prepared to send mail; and you can help. A camp correspondence kit does not have to be fancy. A manila envelope with the necessary supplies will do and will make it easy for your camper to get a few notes to you at home, to grandparents, or to good friends they may be missing.

Here are five easy steps. With your camper:

  1. Find a box, baggie, or large envelope that can hold paper, note cards, envelopes, pens, an address book or list, and stamps. However, it should be small enough to fit into a duffel or on a shelf. Your camper can decorate it. Be sure to include his/her name so counselors know who it belongs to if misplaced!
  2. Make a list of people your child may want to write to. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, all love to hear from their young relative at camp. Don’t forget to add good friends, and even brothers and sisters! Include addresses for everyone on the list.
  3. Add all the necessary supplies. One of the most common excuses people have for not writing is that they didn’t have any paper, or envelopes, or stamps, or….
  4. Buy stamps. The post office and on-line sites have a great variety of stamps. Your camper can choose his/her favorite!
  5. Encourage your camper to actually address some postcards or envelopes and put them in the kit. That makes it easy when it’s quiet time and letter writing is the activity at hand.

Now when your child is away at camp, it will be easy for him/her to send a quick note home. You’ll be so glad you helped with this camp correspondence kit when you’re missing your young camper and that hand written note shows up in the mail!

Emily Post on Sportsmanship

Good sports make for good fun!

In 1940 – that would be 72 years ago – Emily Post published a book for parents titled CHILDREN ARE PEOPLE. I’ve taken some time recently to read through it and am amazed by the timelessness of her advice. It is in that spirit that I would like to share her thoughts on sportsmanship. Some things never change!

The Three Rules of Sportsmanship

Apart from following the rules of every game you play and apart from the question of whether you are a boy or a girl, the code of sportsmanship has three aspects:

  1. YOUR GENERAL BEHAVIOR: Whether you are playing a game or competing in a sport, you must never show bad temper. This is Rule No. I. If you can’t play games good humoredly, or take part in sports amiably, you shouldn’t go out for them. Play a game for love of the game! Go in for sports for the fun of the contest! Whether from cowardice or from temper, to throw down your club or racquet, is to throw down you chances of ever holding it again without penalty.
  2. WHEN YOU WIN: Be glad, of course, but show your gladness briefly. Take you own skill casually. This is the time to say you had luck, or a lucky break! – or perhaps that your opponent had bad luck; and remember, never forget to thank your partner [or teammates] for helping you win.
  3. WHEN YOU LOSE: Try to lose gallantly! Moreover, lose willingly, rather than win unfairly. Try to be fair enough to admire and to praise your opponent for his skill (not for his luck!) Never talk about your own bad luck.

If you are playing in a match, never complain that the referee or score-keeper was unfair. Never  blame or criticize your partner, or someone on your team, for your loss.

When the game is over, the subject is finished, and the “why” you won or lost, or how you felt or played, is put out of mind.

Remember one thing! A gloating winner is far more detested than a bad loser. Even so, when you lose, don’t sulk or protest or long-windedly explain. If you are hurt, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and courageously, good temperedly, get ready for the next encounter.

Emily Post. CHILDREN ARE PEOPLE. 1940:Funk and Wagnalls. pp. 357-358.

Her book is long since out of print, but Emily’s advice is still sound!

Graduation – Begging for Gifts?

Have a question? Find your answer in PROM AND PARTY ETIQUETTE.

Every year at this time we get questions about graduation from high school seniors or their parents. Probably the most common one concerns gifts, invitations, and announcements. In our book PROM AND PARTY ETIQUETTE, Peggy and I included the following in a special box:

Begging for Gifts?

“Even if the school does not place a limit on the number of invitations you can send out, you should not send invitations to people who are already included in the ceremony.  Usually gifts are given by people who receive an invitation, so it might seem like you are begging for a gift by sending invitations to teachers, parents of other graduates, or family members who live far away and are not likely to attend.

On the other hand, there is no obligation to send a gift associated with receiving an announcement. People who receive an announcement may send a congratulatory note or card (or perhaps a small gift if they choose). So, announcements are a nice way to let people know about your accomplishment without it looking as if you’re begging for a gift!” page 77

From PROM AND PARTY ETIQUETTE by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post.

What’s In A Name?

Do these hikers have trail names?

At a pot luck supper recently I met a woman who had hiked the Appalachian Trail end to end. I was so impressed. Some time in the past I had read an article about long distance hiking on the AT. It mentioned that hikers often have “trail” names. They’re a sort of nickname that stays with the hiker throughout their journey over both time and distance. Other hikers leave them notes, instructions, messages, etc. They can leave messages for others and use their trail name in their sign off. At meetings of hikers they are identified by their trail name.

So – I asked her, “Is it polite to ask if you had a trail name and, if so, what was/is it?” I didn’t know if it was appropriate for me – a non-hiker – to know her “trail” name or if it was some sort of code of hikers. “It’s fine to ask – mine was _______. It’s funny, there is a whole group of people out there who only know me as ________. We have hikers’ get-togethers and people just call me by my trail name.”

My next question came out of my work as an etiquette trainer. Often I am asked about what we call people: last names and titles, first names, nicknames, “hey you”, and so on. The answer is always based on what name would convey respect and that often comes from the person’s preference. So…kids call adults by their first names only if the adult asks them to; otherwise, the respectful thing to do is to call them by their title and last name. An employee calls the managers in his company by their title and last name unless the manager indicates otherwise. Nicknames are saved for social situations and only if you know a person well enough to use it and be certain that it is not hurtful.

I was curious. How do trail names get picked? My hiker friend explained that there are two basic criteria which go into determining a trail name:

  1. Someone else picks the name. You never determine your own trail name.
  2. You get to okay the name. If it’s something that is offensive or hurtful to you, you can say so and they’ll look for another name.

My friend’s name was indeed picked by others, and she thought it was fine. It stuck! Those two elements are at the root of the answer I use when I’m asked questions about names. My response is always based on what is the respectful thing to do. In the northeast and on the west coast kids might  call me  Cindy. In the south and mid-west they are more likely to call me Dr. or Mrs. Senning. In the south it might be Miss Cindy (never in the northeast would I hear that!) I am comfortable with any of the above and am quick to let kids know that. But if I wasn’t, the default is always for them to call me Dr. or Mrs. Senning.  As far as I’m concerned they are all respectful. As I tell the kids, “Just don’t call me ‘Hey you!'”

Nick names pose another conundrum. Maybe everyone calls him “Meatball.” And maybe he says he doesn’t mind; but does he? Who came up with that nickname? Did anyone really ever ask him? Names that highlight physical attributes, or call up an unfortunate experience may seem funny and everyone laughs, but is the person who’s stuck with that name really laughing. Maybe not…. Take great care with nicknames. My real name is Lucinda and my nickname is Cindy. Obviously that is fine but when I was a teen with naturally curly kind of frizzy hair I would have been very hurt if everyone called me “Friz”. The respectful thing is to avoid those potentially harmful names.

My husband’s name is John. When he grew up everyone called him Jack. Then he went to college and the professors all called him John, the name on their class lists, and he didn’t bother to correct anyone. Now I know when someone calls and asks for Jack it’s probably someone from his childhood. When others “suggested” they would call him John, he had the opportunity to say yes or no. He said yes. Just as my hiker friend said yes. People get to determine what names are okay wherever they are – not just on the trail. The experience of talking with the hiker helped to clarify that for me. And now I’ve had a chance to clarify it for you. I hope it does.

Cindy – that’s what I like to be called. (Although when I was about 16 some of my friends and my brother started calling me Luce and that has stuck with just a few people ever since. It’s okay with me!)

Children’s Train the Trainer – May 2012!

One of my favorite activities at The Emily Post Institute is conducting our Children’s Train the Trainer program each year. I have the opportunity to work with parents, teachers, after school program coordinators, and etiquette professionals who want to teach etiquette to children. Participants learn about my developmentally based curriculum so they can teach programs and classes tailored for kids in specific age groups: ages two to four, five to seven, eight to twelve, and teens.

During our intensive four-day training, participants learn how to teach a comprehensive children’s etiquette curriculum using our seven training modules. There is also a one-day presentation and facilitation skills workshop, two modules to be used instructing parents and teachers, a chance to observe presentations and receive critique on presentations, and information about how to build a successful children’s etiquette program. Graduates may market themselves as “Trained by The Emily Post Institute.”

If you:

  • want to start your own children’s etiquette seminar business,
  • already teach children’s etiquette, but want to learn and use the Children’s Etiquette Program created and taught by The Emily Post Institute, or
  • are involved in children’s education and related businesses and are seeking to make etiquette training a part of your program;

please contact us at The Emily Post Institute for more information about the next Children’s Train the Trainer to be held in May 2012.


Sixth generation – the legacy continues

Alexander Paul Post - 3 years

Carter Thomas Post - 5 months

Last week I had the opportunity to visit my nephew and his wife and their “so cute” 5-month-old son Carter. He joins the sixth generation along with Alexander, his “so cute” 3-year-old second cousin. One of the joys of having a family legacy and business is greeting each new generation. Maybe Carter and  Alexander will take up the etiquette business – maybe they won’t. They may leave it to Post/Senning cousins still to come, but for now they fulfill the promise of a sixth generation. Whatever they do, we are all proud and pleased and know Emily would be, too!

Get Kids Talking – “What Would You Do?”

What would you do?!?

I love talking with kids about manners and etiquette. The biggest challenge is getting started. One way to get them talking is to pose a question and ask them for their ideas. I would never start with, “Hey, let’s talk about manners today.” Any kid I know would blanch. However, I might ask:

So you are caught at the dining room table at a family dinner with your crazy Aunt Ellie who is boring you to death with the same stories she tells year after year. What would you do…?

There is not a specific right answer. The point of the conversation is to get to a response that focuses on how you show respect or kindness to Aunt Ellie. Perhaps this is the one time a year she gets to see everyone and she loves to tell the story about … whatever.  She doesn’t remember that she told it before, but she knows it is an important story in her life and she wants to share it. So maybe the answer is that you just grin and listen. After all, it’s just a short time in your life and it means so much to her. After lunch you and your siblings might talk about who got to hear Aunt Ellie’s story this year. Were there any differences? How did you respond? Then, how did she respond?

Maybe this scenario never happened to you or your family. Still it is a way to talk about respecting others in a different generation. This leads to a talk about the principles of etiquette. How do we show respect? Kids like to talk about these things.

I have many, many “What would you do?” cards that I use at talks I do with kids just to get them talking back. They are always popular and never fail to start a discussion. I will share others throughout this year. Or, think up your own. The point never is a specific answer. The point is to think through how you might respond in a way that builds or strengthens the relationship at hand. The idea to get kids thinking and talking about respect, consideration, honesty, and kindness and how these basic principles can bring us to a more positive place.

Happy conversations! And please let me know if you come up with some good scenarios I can use. Thanks