My son Fletcher was 20 months old when he officially "got" the concept of trick-or-treating. Dressed as a penguin, he marched up to doors and grabbed as many treats as his pudgy fists could hold. Then, with nary a backward glance, he'd bolt down the sidewalk, ready to loot the next house.
"How adorable," indulgent neighbors would say. But Fletcher's grab-'n'-go 'tude became embarrassing. "For next Halloween," I told my husband, "we're teaching him to say thank you."
Good manners: you don't think much about them till you bump into someone who doesn't have them. Then words like "Jerk!" and "Brat!" and other expletives you probably don't want people associating with your child come to mind. Which is why manners rank up there with other important life skills, such as eating neatly, that kids need to learn. "There's no gene for good manners," says Lyudmila Bloch, coauthor of The Golden Rules of Etiquette at The Plaza. "Until they're taught, children don't know the concept."