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From ABCs to Ps and Qs

Does sitting down to dinner with the kids conjure up images of eating among a pack of rabid wolves? Pack off your litter to pick up some manners at one of the many etiquette classes popping up all over the Metroplex. No longer the province of cotillion and debutantes, etiquette is the latest must-do class for kids of all ages. Children are learning not only basic table manners and protocol but polishing up on must-have life skills and social confidence for dating, college life and beyond.

"Today’s parents see the importance of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and how to eat, of raising kids who can do more than trying to eat out of a bag," observes Colleen Rickenbacher, locally based etiquette expert, author and instructor. She suggests children take their first class around age 8 or 9, with annual follow-ups to introduce age-appropriate skills such as thank-you notes, being a good overnight guest, dating skills and interacting comfortably with adults.