12/23/2012 03:25 EST | Updated 02/22/2013 05:12 EST

Will Your Kid Be Polite This Christmas?

Family with child by Christmas tree, dad holding star

Welcome to the holiday season, prime time for showing off your kids' manners (or lack thereof).

Remember that sharing, saying "thank you" (even when they don't like the gift), eating at the fancy table and resisting the urge to begin all sentences with "I want..." are learned behaviours and do not come naturally. That means you have to teach them and practise them. Then repeat.

Here are our 10 Secrets to Polite Kids that we hope will bring some civility to your next family fete.

When the Gift Isn't Great

To avoid outbursts like "I don't like it!" or "Where's the toy?" a little role-playing can help hit the point home about being polite. Practise the appropriate response ("thank you" works) no matter what the gift is. Some say it's faking it -- we say it's acknowledging kindness. (Tell me more)

When the Guests Arrive

If they can walk and talk, they can answer the door and greet people with a smile. Encourage little ones to help with guests' bags/coats/gloves and to shake hands with everyone as they arrive. This requires a lot of practise with handshakes and direct eyeball-to-eyeball contact. Practise "hands and eyeballs" and repeat often. (Tell me more)

No Toys, Screens or Phones at the Table

Kids can find it hard to keep distractions at bay during a long meal. (This applies to adult family members as well.) Make it clear that, at the table, the only communication accepted is conversational. (But allow kids with clean plates to escape after a reasonable time.) (Tell me more)

If these 10 Secrets to Polite Kids fail, keep it simple by feeding them something without sugar before you go to a party -- and bribe, if necessary.

It's all part of the season of joy for parents of little rock stars.

This post originally appeared on Follow Minnow and SavvyMom on Facebook for more savvy tips and solutions.

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