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11:05 PM Sat, Oct. 20th

Manners matter: Kids gain confidence through etiquette

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<p>
Ellie Petersen (front) and Jamie Padnuk learn the importance of good etiquette.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<p> Ellie Petersen (front) and Jamie Padnuk learn the importance of good etiquette.

In an age of rampant attention deficit disorder, mass distraction, and other static in modern society, it is never too early to teach kids manners and basic etiquette.

Instructor Cindy Eis specializes in teaching young people principles of politeness in classes at Yavapai College and through Prescott Valley's Parks and Recreation Department.

This past week, Eis wound up a four-session class in "Manners, Etiquette and Confidence" for girls ages 8 to 14, teaching appropriate social and speaking skills designed to promote self-confidence in formal settings and various circumstances.

"I put a lot of emphasis on meeting and greeting. I think the kids at that age are really in need of how to meet and greet," Eis said, mentioning posture and poise, speaking and communication skills, table and telephone etiquette, and avoiding conversational fillers like "uh" and "you know" as other topics.

Eis said she also briefly discusses grooming and coordinating apparel color choices with the seasons.

In the final class, Eis taught the students the value of handwritten notes and the proper circumstances to use them: congratulations, a message of thanks, an invitation, condolences or encouragement.

"You shouldn't use e-mails or other communication. It's more thoughtful and courteous if you send them a handwritten note," she said, giving some pointers on how to communicate sincerity to the addressee.

"Tell them some really specific things - how meaningful that certain thing really is to you," she said. "A handwritten note is a gift back to the giver, showing you've taken the time to show that you care about the other person."

Eis told the kids even if the gift is not something they would use, she offered ways to sound appreciative, and how to use expressions that are meaningful.

"Think about how you would feel if you received a thank-you note. What would you want expressed?"

Handing out completion certificates to the students for finishing the class series, Eis showed them the procedure of accepting with your left, shaking with your right and saying "thank you."

"We learned a lot of manners, etiquette, posture and everything - and it was fun," said Jamie Padnuk, 12.

Eis said the class seeks to boost confidence for the students, and to teach thoughtfulness and courtesy.

"I don't want them to learn a bunch of rules in etiquette and not have a proper attitude. There is a reason we want to learn the rules of etiquette, and that's to be kind and thoughtful to other people," she said.

Eis also teaches the class on Saturday mornings at Yavapai College, and will teach another series through Prescott Valley Parks and Recreation in October and possibly an intermediate class as well, with more tentatively planned for the spring at Yavapai College.

For more information, contact Eis at cindyrella@commspeed.net.

Contact the reporter at lmclain@prescottaz.com