Development & Finishing Institute in Morningside Heights

May 31, 2009 5:44:03 AM PDT
With high tech surrounding them, more and more, teenagers are losing touch with the etiquette rules of their parents and generations prior. Rose Murdock, the Executive Director and founder of the Development & Finishing Institute in Morningside Heights, joined us with etiquette tips. What is the biggest problem you're finding with teens and etiquette?
They don't know it at all. Due to the fast-paced society and economics of the time, teens don't know how to act appropriately. Also, parents aren't spending the time to teach to their children.

What is the biggest lesson you're teaching at the institute?
We're teaching students how to communicate directly with others and how to act in formal settings.

What do you do about it?
These are some of the lessons we teach:

1. Teach your children "everyday vocabulary matters" such as please, thank you, and your welcome
2. Don't address anyone in authority by their first name
3. Allow your children to practice etiquette at a family meal--chew with mouths closed, speak to the waiters and sit up straight at the table
4. Pay attention to how your children dress in the morning--girls should be able to sit comfortably anywhere and not show their underwear
5. Cell phones should not be heard by everyone on the bus
6. Don't talk too loud in public--don't disturb others around you--pay attention to the reaction of those around you
7. Children are a reflection of their parents--you are their role model and they will reflect your behavior

What is the Development & Finishing Institute (DFI)?
We are a New York-based organization that offers manners & etiquette classes for tweens and teens. We are now in our seventh year and offer classes that teach kids about everything from table manners -- to the dos and don't of fashion.

The school's two signature programs are a 20-week class and a 6-week Boot Camp program. Classes are held on Saturdays and the primary focus is teaching etiquette and dining skills for boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 18. We also offer à la carte classes for those children that need instruction in specific areas.

Why did you decide to start the program?
Because I felt it was needed. I have been working with teenagers for more then 30 years and noticed that many of them felt uncomfortable in social situations.

So what happens after these kids complete the program?
Upon successful completion of the 20-session or 6-week program, students receive a certificate during an annual graduation ceremony that is cotillion inspired with formal attire and introductions.

Why should parents consider a program like DFI for their kids? Is there a benefit to having formal training in etiquette and manners?
It is essential that today's young people learn to develop the social and professional skills necessary for community leadership, personal development and success in business and social environments. The curriculum that we offer is interactive and allows a high level of participation to keep the students engaged.

Teens often tune out when parent correct them on their behavior or feel their parents are being "old fashion" when it comes to their advice on etiquette. DFI helps to create a real world environment for kids where students can see first hand the benefits of having good manners and etiquette.

In addition to the formal classes, you are also soon to be releasing a book entitled The Real Deal. What can teens and parents expect to learn from the book?
The Real Deal is more of a modern-day guide for kids that includes subjects like etiquette when talking or texting on their cell phone or when using their iPod and even when on the internet. Kids today have so many more means to communicate with one another which makes it more important than ever to understand the importance of maintaining social graces, even if you are texting or sending and email. Having good manners does not just apply to face-to-face encounters anymore.

When will the book be release?
It's slated for release this August and will be available for purchase online through the DFI website:

And for parents who are interested in signing up the kids for DFI classes?
Registration for Fall classes begins Saturday, October 3rd. Classes will be held at on the campus of Columbia University. Parents can register on our website or by calling (212) 828-4530.