Chinese parents hope to give children a ‘leg up’ with etiquette classes

China 24

Chinese parents hope to give children a ‘leg up’ with etiquette classes

It’s said that money cannot buy happiness, but in China it apparently can buy you manners. CGTN’s Frances Kuo.

Some kids spend their Saturday at play. But one group of children is passing time in a five-star hotel in Shanghai.

“Kids should be kids, that’s true,” said parent Cheng Liyan. “But at least they should have some discipline.”

Eight children – between seven and 11 years old – are in a special class that’s teaching them about etiquette and manners.

Instead of reading books, they’re balancing them on their head while walking a red line on the floor.  The lesson here: good posture.

There’s also the lesson on how to properly greet someone – a strong handshake and good eye contact.

Students are also taught to sit up straight at the dinner table, elbows off. Red ribbons tied behind their shoulders prevent them from slouching.

“I would say it’s a bit tiring but it’s very interesting,” said Danielle Liu, a student.

Families are shelling out big bucks for these classes, designed for wealthy clients. It costs nearly $400 per child for a four-hour course.

For parents, it’s all about giving their children a leg up in an ultra-competitive world.

“But I think especially in Shanghai actually a lot of families can afford it, and they pay more attention to their children’s quality and everything,” said Cheng.  “First, they can afford it. Second, they are willing to pay for it because this class is very necessary.”

French native Guillaume Rue de Bernadac started an etiquette company in Shanghai five years ago. He says demand for his courses has surged for both children and adults.

For his clients, it’s a delicate balance between maintaining their Chinese culture and adopting a Western one.

“So the parents are Chinese, they are proud to be Chinese, happy to be Chinese but they want to be international, meaning being able to adapt to an international environment,” said Rue de Bernadac. “So they want their kids to be able to be sent to schools abroad or to travel.”

He hopes his classes will help little ladies and gentlemen effortlessly make their way into high society by putting a touch of class in the classroom.

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