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The Manners Pig: A Creative Way to Teach Table Manners

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mannerspig1Parents regularly tell me that the highest area of manner “pain” for them is table manners. We eat three meals a day. Even when your kids go off to school and the patient cafeteria workers get to observe them for 5 meals a week, you can STILL be brought to the verge of insanity by the licking, shoveling and tooting that takes place at YOUR dinner table during the other meals. I know you.  You have told me.

And as a mom to three kids, I totally get it. Although my kids are of college and high school age, I occasionally need to remind. (Cough. Cough.) The kids would refer to it as nagging. I refer to it as doing my job as Mom; teaching them important life skills that will make others find them a pleasure to be around.  And maybe even help them get a job someday. No one wants to dine with a boor. Oh noooooo. No one.

I’m often asked if there is any magical way to have your darling dinners minding their meal time manners. There is. It’s called practice and repetition. It is not glamorous. It is often not fun.

BUT….today I bring you GREAT news!  You CAN have fun while teaching table manners to your kids. Its a new game on the market called “The Manners Pig

When my friend Melissa kindly made a virtual introduction to Charlotte Barto, her college friend and creator of The Manners Pig, I was SO excited! The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the upcoming holidays. Without further ado, I’m going to let my guest blogger Charlotte tell you about her and the creation of her adorable book and learning game.

My name is Charlotte Barto and I am the author of The Manners Pig book and dinner time game that reinforces table manners.  I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and three sons.  As is often the case with products created by moms, The Manners Pig was born out of necessity!  I was at my wits’ end as a mother who values good manners AND peaceful mealtimes.  Weary of the constant nagging to keep elbows off the table, chew with mouths closed, eat with utensils, (…the list goes on!), I finally decided to step off the crazy train.  We implemented a method that worked surprisingly well where all else had failed… Introducing The Manners Pig!

 

“Biggs, the Manners Pig” is a handsome figurine who gladly does the dirty work- no nagging necessary!  He sits on the dinner table keeping his eye out for poor table manners.  At the first sign of rudeness he moves to the place of the guilty party.  There he sits until another breach of etiquette requires him to move elsewhere.  No one knows where he will end up, but everyone competes to avoid the pig!  In our house, whoever ends up with Biggs washes the dishes, a silent motivator to “mind your manners” – and I never have to utter a word.

 

With all of my prior teaching and training and hemming and hawing, my kids of course “knew” proper table etiquette, they just lacked the right motivation to practice it.  Flinging a pea at a brother was clearly worth the ensuing reprimand and punishment.  I had become a drippy faucet like the teacher in Charlie Brown (wah, wah, waaah…).  It affected my relationship with my kids and everyone’s attitude at the dinner table.  Using The Manners Pig freed me to stop nagging and simply move the pig.  Family dinners went from exasperating to joyful and actually quite funny.  “Everyone needs this!” was the thought which led me to write the book and turn the method into a product that is easy to implement and fun to use.

 

The Manners Pig is sold in a box set.  Each set comes with a “Biggs The Manners Pig” figurine and hardcover book that tells Biggs’s story.  The book is written to teach younger kids about table manners, but the table game with the figurine is suitable for all ages.  Two of my boys are teenagers and it still works like magic!  The Manners Pig can be purchased on my website:  www.themannerspig.com.

 

Selling a product like The Manners Pig has caused me to think deeply on why manners matter- not just table manners, but all manners.  The dinner table, in my opinion, is the best place to start because it is regular, in a comfortable and familiar setting, and is a training ground for the hundreds of future meals that will be eaten and shared with others.  A child who learns good manners at home and practices them in public will ultimately be more successful in every area of life than the child who is left to the influence of our postmodern culture which has a blatant disregard for manners. To have good character one MUST have good manners.

 

-Manners are Others-Centered vs. Self-Centered:

I love what Kelly teaches about the Platinum Rule – do unto others what THEY would have you do unto THEM.  It flies in the face of our self-centered culture that encourages me to elevate MY feelings, MY beliefs, MY opinions and MY sensitivities over and above yours, which is the epitome of poor manners.  Our children don’t need to be taught how to be selfish.  They need to be taught how to honor and respect others by being polite, even when it is distasteful, and courteous, even though it may inconvenience them to do so.  Ultimately, those who know how to treat others with politeness and respect fare better across the board.  In school they are liked by peers and teachers, socially they are well-received in a variety of circles and professionally they are hired more readily and promoted more often.

 

-Manners Create A Good Name vs. A Bad Reputation:

A good name is elevated above riches in the Bible’s book of Proverbs.  It is equally well known that a bad reputation is difficult to overcome.  Our reputations, for better or worse are shaped by our manners.  A good name will commend us to others, opening opportunities for employment, friendships and connections, while a bad name more often will lead to a slew of closed doors.  Reputations are built on our interactions with others.  Am I considerate of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs or positions of those around me, or am I always looking out for number one?  It all goes back to our manners.

 

-The Bad News vs. The Good News:

The bad news is that if left unchecked the pervasive nature of entertainment media and social media will carry our kids along in its powerful current toward ever-increasing self-focus.  As a mom, fighting the grip of culture and its effect on my kids feels overwhelming.  It was an empowering moment when I realized that it doesn’t have to be.  That is the good news!  As parents we really do have more influence on our children than the culture around us.  Reinforcing good manners and politeness goes a long way in combating the self-centered, rude, and inconsiderate attitudes which mark a society that is no longer defined by common courtesy.  It starts with simple table manners and grows from there.

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Bravo! Bravo! Thank you SO MUCH Charlotte for sharing The Manners Pig with all of us! I hope Biggs The Manners Pig sees the insides of many, many homes..and induces many giggles.   I invite all of you to visit Charlotte & Biggs at The Manners Pig.

Mind Your Manners,

Kelly

2 Comments
  1. What a clever and fun idea for teaching kids. I wish I had this when our kids were younger. Makes a great gift. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for reading Angela! I agree – wish I had this fun game when the kids were young!

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