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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Teaching kids manners

soupbook.jpgJust in time for those holiday thank-you notes and dinners at Grandma's house, a book lands on my desk called Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard! a book of manners. The spiral-bound flip book is aimed at kids ages 4 and up, not parents, and there are illustrations on every page and a light touch.

It starts off with the basics, the Golden Rule, saying please and thank you. Then it delves into more precise coaching. How to introduce yourself, how to introduce others, "Mrs. Smith, this is my friend Emily."

There are chapters on telephone etiquette, dinnerware, writing messages, proper attire and my favorite: points of politeness in public places ("Do not kick, tap or push the seat in front of you").

We adults forget sometimes because it seems obvious but children do have to literally be taught such obvious things as look, but don't touch, treat public property with respect, how to ride an elevator without being obnoxious and how to behave in a movie theater. …

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How to secure a Christmas tree with a toddler in the house

christmastree.jpgThis is good information for people with cats, too.  If this is your first Christmas with a toddler in the house, you have to be dreading how much you'll have to police your precious Christmas treasures from the curious (and clumsy) hands of a toddler. To be fair to the kids, the room just got a big tree with lights and spinny things on it, who could resist?

Here's a game plan to keep your toddler from pulling the tree on top of himself or hurling your grandmother's antique ornament across the room:

Secure it: You know those ceiling hooks that your mom hung potted plants from? Those are a good solution to tipping Christmas trees. Use fishing line to secure the top of the tree to the hook. You could also do this mid-tree to a back wall.

Pyramid of greatness: Like the food pyramid, the Christmas tree should put the most rare and important baubles on top and proceed in descending order to the plastic M&M ornament that came in a cereal box on the bottom. Don't kid yourself that you can just teach them not to touch the tree. Sure you might, but on the off-chance yours has normal human curiosity, keep any valuables out of reach. …

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