Just because your kids haven't been invited for a playdate with Prince George and Princess Charlotte doesn't mean they can't behave like little princes and princesses themselves.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's little ones may not yet be old enough to sit at the grown-ups' table at official dinners — that'll have to wait until they can hold polite conversation like adults for that — but they've certainly been learning good manners since they were babies.
And if George, who turns five this month, and Charlotte, who is three, can practice good etiquette, your kids can, too. But where to start? Etiquette expert Myka Meier, 36, has shared the most important lessons a child should learn by the age of 10, from how to answer a phone to the top rules to follow during a meal, reports Daily Mail.
Myka, a dual American and British citizen, trained in London under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen — and has gone on to to open Beaumont Etiquette to pass on her expertise.
She currently runs The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program, where she teaches people of all ages proper etiquette, with special classes designed for children held in the Eloise Tea Room. She's been flown all over the world to teach royals, celebrities, and other members of the elite (some of whom require that she signs NDAs).
Yet she insists that most of the lessons she imparts are just as useful for kids who aren't visiting palaces and dining at the world's most expensive restaurants.
"As parents, you wish nothing more than to see your child excel in all they do, and the best way to get ahead is to teach them basic dining and social skills while they're young," she told DailyMail.com.
"The foundation of etiquette, taught during childhood, is unmatched and considered an investment in your child's future," she went on.
"Regardless of personal goals, early childhood etiquette instills basic manners, kindness and respect, social skills, and confidence in children."
"It's never too early to begin etiquette training," she added. "Children such as Prince George and Princess Charlotte begin learning dining etiquette the moment they are able to sit at the dining table."
Of course, teaching etiquette is an ongoing process — and some lessons need to be adapted based on a child's behavior.
"The true meaning of etiquette is always to show respect and kindness to everyone and all living things around you, including people, animals, and the environment," Myka explained.
An effective way to do that is to learn these 20 things before the age of 10...
1. The correct way to hold cutlery
"Often holding cutlery is one of the biggest mistakes children make in dining," Myka said. "When they start eating as babies they use their hands, but by toddlers they are expected to progress to silverware and often have a hard time adjusting."
The rules are also different in British and American dining. Brits keep their fork in their left hand and knife in their right throughout the meal, and in formal settings will push food onto the back of the fork.
Americans cut with their fork in the left hand and a knife in their right, but move the fork to the right hand to take a bite. They also spear food onto the fork, as opposed to placing it on the back.
2. How to properly use a napkin to wipe your mouth
Kid should be taught quickly that sleeves are for wearing, not for sopping up food or spills.
3. To never chew with their mouths open
"Children can begin learning table manners as soon as they're old enough to sit at the table," said Myka.
4. How to set the table
"Being able to set a proper dining table goes beyond cutlery placement," Myka said. She goes into the details in her classes, but parents should at least show children where to place cutlery, napkins, and cups — and can get them to practice by setting the table before family dinners.
5. Not to put elbows on the table
"Putting elbows on the table in western culture is recognized as rude behavior," says Myka. "In America and Great Britain, we keep our hands totally under the table until food or drink is served, while in many other countries wrists stay on the table. But no matter what country in the western world, no elbows."
Why the rule? Well, Myka, said, "When putting your elbows on the table you break posture and curve your back, leaning over the table. It's also possible that your elbows knock into something at the table."
6. To say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me"
"As soon as children have the ability to speak its importance to introduce verbal cues such as please and thank you," said Myka.
7. How to show positive body language
It's one thing to talk to talk, but a kid also has to walk the walk. Saying "please" an 'thank you' don't go very far when a child is grumbling, and crossing his arms.
8. To never comment on someone's appearance — unless it's to say something nice
Kids have a habit of being embarrassingly honest. If they know that the only comments they should make about someone's looks are positive ones, you'll never hear, "Daddy, that lady is so ugly!"
On the flip side, positive remarks should be encouraged, and children should be taught how to give a compliment.
9. Not to point or stare
10. Not to interrupt adults when they are speaking to someone else
11. How to introduce themselves — and others — properly
Teaching them to say their names and offer a handshake is the first step, but it's important that they learn how to introduce one friend to another, too.
12. Not to call an adult by his or her first name, unless instructed to do so
13. How to write a thank-you letter and why we do it
14. To always knock on a door before opening it
Teaching this to children from an early age can prevent mortifying moments.
"The earlier you start teaching children etiquette, the more it becomes day to day normal behavior to them and is easier to absorb," said Myka. "Just as it is easier to learn a language as a child, so it is for any skill set."
15. Why it's important to invite someone to join a group if they are by themselves
Recognizing the needs of others is compassionate and shows good manners — but in the beginning, kids will likely need an adult to point out those who should be invited to join.
16. How to dress and groom themselves for nice outings
17. How to politely answer a phone
According to Myka, children should answer the phone by saying one of the following: "Hello," "Good morning," "Good afternoon," "Good evening," or "Hello, how may I help you?"
When the caller asks to speak to someone, a child should then ask who is calling.
She pointed out that while children used to be taught to introduce themselves when picking up the phone, that is no longer advisable for safety reasons.
18. To make eye contact when speaking to another person
19. To cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing
"Parents should definitely lead by example, as children see what their parents are doing they will copy their behavior," said Myka.
20. When to use indoor and outdoor voices
This one should certainly be taught when kids are young, but Myka insists it's never too late to begin teaching a child etiquette.
"As a pre-teen or teen, it's still a great time for etiquette training," she said. "As adolescents begin to develop a sense of self, they are able to comprehend etiquette in a way that is applicable."