If your child has ever mortified you in a restaurant or at the playground (and whose hasn't?), teaching her manners is probably on your to-do list--somewhere between yesterday's laundry and learning how to become a Zen master. There's good reason to pencil it in near the top: In order for your child to have an active, healthy social life in the future, you need to lay the foundation for good manners now.
However, it's important to remember that you need to stay focused on manners your child can actually understand at his age. Practice is your best strategy, says Carol McD. Wallace, author of Elbows off the Table, Napkin in the Lap, No Video Games During Dinner (St. Martin's Press, 1996). With that in mind, here are answers to some of your most common questions.