MEXICO – LANGUAGE, CULTURE, CUSTOMS AND ETIQUETTE

Mexico is Go Au Pair‘s Featured Country. Learn More about Mexico with this info provided by Kwintessencial.

Mexican FlagFacts and Statistics

Location:  Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between

Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the US

Capital:   Mexico City

Climate:  varies from tropical to desert

Population:  104,959,594 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic Make-up: mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%,
white 9%, other 1%

Religions:  nominally Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 6%, other 5%

Government:  federal republic

Language in Mexico

Spanish control of Mexico led to the dominance of Spanish, the official language. As many as 100 Native American languages are still spoken in Mexico, but no single alternative language prevails. Eighty percent of those Mexicans who speak an indigenous language also speak Spanish. The most important of the Native American languages is Nahuatl. It is the primary language of more than a million Mexicans and is spoken by nearly one-fourth of all Native Americans in the country. This is followed by Maya, used by 14 percent of Native Americans, and Mixteco and Zapoteco, each spoken by about seven percent of Native Americans. No other indigenous language is spoken by more than five percent of Mexico’s Native Americans.
Why not learn some useful Spanish phrases?

Mexican Society & Culture

Mexican Family ValuesMexico Etiquette

. The family is at the centre of the social structure.
. Outside of the major cosmopolitan cities, families are still generally large.
. The extended family is as important as the nuclear family since it provides a sense of stability.
. Mexicans consider it their duty and responsibility to help family members. For example, the will help find employment or finance a house or other large purchase.
. Most Mexican families are extremely traditional, with the father as the head, the authority figure and the decision-maker.
. Mothers are greatly revered, but their role may be seen as secondary to that of their husband.

Hierarchical Society

. Mexican society and business are highly stratified and vertically structured.
. Mexicans emphasize hierarchical relationships.
. People respect authority and look to those above them for guidance and decision-making.
. Rank is important, and those above you in rank must always be treated with respect.
. This makes it important to know which person is in charge, and leads to an authoritarian approach to decision-making and problem- solving.
. Mexicans are very aware of how each individual fits into each hierarchy–be it family, friends or business.
. It would be disrespectful to break the chain of hierarchy.

‘Machismo’

. Machismo literally means ‘masculinity’.
. There are different outward behaviours to display machismo.
. For example, making remarks to women is a stereotypical sign of machismo and should not be seen as harassment.
. Mexican males generally believe that nothing must be allowed to tarnish their image as a man.

Etiquette & Customs in Mexico

Meeting Etiquette

. When greeting in social situations, women pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder, rather than shake hands
. Men shake hands until they know someone well, at which time they progress to the more traditional hug and back slapping.
. Wait until invited before using a Mexican’s first name

Gift Giving Etiquette

. If invited to a Mexican’s house, bring a gift such as flowers or sweets.
. Gift wrapping does not follow any particular protocol.
. Do not give marigolds as they symbolize death.
. Do not give red flowers as they have a negative connotation.
. White flowers are a good gift as they are considered uplifting.
. Gifts are opened immediately.
. If you receive a gift, open it and react enthusiastically.

Dining Etiquette

If you are invited to a Mexican’s home:
. Arrive 30 minutes late in most places (check with colleagues to see if you should arrive later than that).
. Arriving on time or early is considered inappropriate.
. At a large party you may introduce yourself.
. At a smaller gathering the host usually handles the introductions.

Watch your table manners!

. Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
. When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right.
. Do not sit down until you are invited to and told where to sit.
. Do not begin eating until the hostess starts.
. Only men give toasts.
. It is polite to leave some food on your plate after a meal.

Business Etiquette and Protocol in Mexico

Relationships & Communication

. The right connections facilitate business success.
. You will be judged by the person who introduces you and changing this first impression is nearly impossible.
. Since the initial meeting is generally with someone of high stature, it is important that your delegation include an upper-level executive.
. After the initial getting-to-know-you meeting, the senior executive may not attend meetings or be visible.
. This indicates you are now getting down to business and they are no longer needed to smooth the introduction.
. Demonstrating trustworthiness, sincerity, and integrity are crucial to building relationships.
. Expect to answer questions about your personal background, family and life interests.

Business Meeting Etiquette

. Business appointments are required and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Reconfirm the appointment one week before the meeting.
. Reconfirm the meeting again once you arrive in Mexico and make sure that the secretary of the person you will be meeting knows how to contact you.
. It is important that you arrive on time for meetings, although your Mexican business associates may be up to 30 minutes late.
. Do not appear irritated if this occurs as people often run behind schedule.
. Meetings may be postponed with little advance warning.
. Initial meetings are formal.
. Have all written material available in both English and Spanish.
. Agendas are not common. If they are given, they are not always followed.

Business Negotiation

. Since Mexicans are status conscious, you should always have someone on your negotiating team who is an executive.
. If you do not speak Spanish, hire an interpreter.
. It will take several meetings to come to an agreement.
. Face-to-face meetings are preferred over telephone, letters or email.
. Negotiations and decisions take a long time. You must be patient.
. Deadlines are seen as flexible and fluid, much like time itself.
. Negotiations will include a fair amount of haggling. Do not give your best offer first.
. Do not include an attorney on your negotiating team.

Business Dress

. Dress as you would in Europe.
. Men should wear conservative, dark coloured suits.
. Women should wear business suits or conservative dresses.

Business Cards

. Business cards are exchanged during introductions with everyone at a meeting.
. It is advisable to have one side of your business card in Spanish.
. Business cards should contain both your professional and educational qualifications.
. Present your business card with the Spanish side facing the recipient.

Useful Information and Links about Mexico

Currency – the currency of Mexico is known as the Peso. Use the free currency converter to compare to dollars, GBP or Euro.

Weather – visit Yahoo!’s up to date Weather for Mexico.

Translation Services – do you need a Spanish Translation Service?

News – check out all the latest Google news on Mexico.

Intercultural Know-how – use the Intercultural Business Communication tool for tips on doing business in Mexico.

Dialling Code – the international dialling code for Mexico is +52.

Time – Mexico is -6 hours GMT.

Management – for information about being a manager in Mexico visit the free Management in Mexico guide.

Hotels – Hotels in Mexico.

History – read about the long and rich history of Mexico.

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Clam Down Kit

Sometimes anger can get the best of even the most mild mannered child. One thing to try is introducing a Calm Down Kit, as recommended by Social Work Practices.

 

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It gives kiddos many coping skill options

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Bubbles can help kids (and adults) breathe deeply. So can counting to 10…that’s what the “counting straws” are for!

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Somt imes when kids (and adults) are  all filled up with emotions, our bodies seem to have  extra energy.  Playdough, a bouncy ball or a smooth stone for rubbing can help  get out that extra energy without harm to self, others or property.

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And other times we all just want to be heard.  A notepad, some pencils or crayons and an envelope let us write or draw our feelings so we can talk about them later.

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Lots of materials, one easy to carry box and…

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Voila, everything fits and material can be switched out or in as desired.

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Want a few more ideas?

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Creative Consequences

Coming up with a discipline plan can be an on going battle and what works for someone else may not work for you. Here is a list from iMom of 21 creative consequences.

Disciplining our children takes dedication and effort. Pouty litte girl in timeout It also helps to mix in a little creativity when needed.  The consequences below from parenting expert, Lisa Welchel, might seem a little strong, but let them inspire you to come up with your own, and pair them with the 7 Steps to Tried and True Discipline.

1.    If time-outs don’t work, try a “time-in.” This can be accomplished by sending your child to a designated spot where he must complete a task that has a definite beginning and end. This could be putting together a small puzzle, stringing 50 beads on a piece of yarn, or tracing the alphabet. A time-in diverts his energies and encourages him to focus on something positive.

2.    Timers set definite boundaries. For example, with a timer, you can say, “I’m setting the timer. I want your room cleaned (or your shoes on, or the dishes unloaded) in 15 minutes. If you haven’t finished by then, your correction is….” This method not only spurs on easily distracted children, but it also leaves little room for arguing about a job that isn’t finished and whether the correction is warranted.

3.    Make a homemade “Correction” can and fill it with tickets or slips of paper with various consequences written on them. Instead of giving your child a time-out, send her to the can for a slip. A few ideas might include no TV or computer for a night, early bedtime, or an extra chore. Toss in a blank piece of paper, a “mercy” ticket. This gives you an opportunity to talk about how God gives us mercy even when we deserve punishment.

4.    If you repeatedly open the door to your child’s room only to catch him in an act of disobedience, take your child’s bedroom door off the hinges. It sounds harder to do than it actually is. And it works wonders!

5.    Adjust bedtimes according to your children’s behavior that day. For each infraction, they must go to bed five minutes earlier, but if they’ve been good, they can earn the right to stay up an extra five minutes.

6.    An especially tough but effective correction for teenagers who forget to wear their seat belts is to add an additional day past their sixteenth birthday before they can take their driver’s test. Hey, it’s important!

7.    If you have dawdlers, try this: Whoever is last to the table at dinnertime becomes the server. But there’s a catch. Even if you’re first, your hands must be clean, of you’ll end up serving the food, pouring the drinks, and fetching the condiments (after washing your hands, of course!).

8.    If your children are constantly turning in sloppy schoolwork, get a few photocopied pages of printing or cursive exercises. (These can be found at any teachers supply store.) Then ask your haphazard child this: “What takes longer: a report done neatly in 15 minutes or one you’ve sped through in 10 that must be redone and warrants a page of handwriting practice?”

9.    You’ve heard the reprimand “Hold your tongue!” Make your child do it-literally. Have her stick out her tongue and hold it between two fingers. This is an especially effective correction for public outbursts.

10. My friend, Becki, tried a variation on this idea in the car. If things got too raucous or there was too much fussing between siblings, she would cry, “Noses on knees!” Her children then had to immediately touch their noses to their knees until she determined that they had learned their lesson.

11. Next time your child “forgets” to put something away, like video games or sports equipment, put it away for him. When he asks where it is, tell him that he’ll just have to look for it. Believe me; he will learn that it’s a lot more trouble to find something that Mom has hidden than it is to put it away in the first place.

12. If you have younger children who are messy, try this: Put their toys in a “rainy day” box to bring out later. This has the added benefit of making an old toy seem new again. Or set the toy somewhere out of reach but within sight for a predetermined number of days. This increases the impact of the correction by keeping the forbidden toy fresh in their minds.

13. I heard from a mom who had tired of her three sons’ ceaseless noises and sound effects—so she got creative. If her boys did not take their commotion outside, she would make them sit down and listen to the “Barney” theme song cassette for 10 minutes. For adolescent boys, it’s torture!

14. If your little one gets too hyper, come up with a code word to remind him to stop the action without embarrassing him. Whenever Tucker started getting too rowdy in a group, I would yell, “Hey, Batman.” He knew that he needed to calm down before I had to take more drastic measures.

15. Does your child slam the door when she’s angry? You might tell her, “It’s obvious that you don’t know how to close a door properly. To learn, you will open and close this door, calmly and completely, 100 times.”

16. If your child likes to stomp off to his room or stomp around in anger, send him outside to the driveway and tell him to stomp his feet for one minute. He’ll be ready to quit after about 15 seconds, but make him stomp even harder.

17. The same goes for throwing fits. Tell your child to go to her room to continue her fit. She isn’t allowed to come out and she has to keep crying for 10 minutes. Ten minutes is an awfully long time, and it’s no fun if your parents tell you to cry.

18. Another way to handle temper tantrums is to simply say, “That is too disruptive for this house. You may continue your fit in the backyard. When you’re finished, you are welcome to come back inside.” When there isn’t an audience, the thrill of throwing a temper tantrum is gone.

19. If a job is not done diligently, have your child practice doing it. She’ll learn to be more thorough if she’s made to sweep the floor three or four times because her first effort wasn’t good enough.

20. When one of my children is acting disrespectful, disobedient, or defiant, I will instruct him or her to choose a chore from the Job Jar. The jobs include scrubbing the toilet, organizing the pots and pans, moving and vacuuming underneath the furniture, weeding the garden, matching up odd socks, defrosting the refrigerator, and cleaning the closet, garage, or under the bed. And those are just a few possibilities. You could add ironing, vacuuming the refrigerator coils, scrubbing the inside of small wastebaskets, polishing the silver, cleaning the window wells, brushing the animals, cleaning the fireplace, shaking the kitchen rugs, vacuuming the couch, alphabetizing the spices, and using wood cleaner on the dining room chairs. Not only does the Job Jar help to get my house clean, but it also keeps my little ones from complaining that they’re bored. They know that with the Job Jar, Mom will always have an antidote for boredom.

21. I have a friend whose son’s morning chore was to get the pooper-scooper and clean up the doggie gifts littering the backyard. The boy was not doing this job with much diligence, so his father came up with this creative solution: After the boy had completed the task, he would be required to run through the yard barefoot! From then on, their lawn was perfectly clean.

 

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Tips to Encourage Reading

storytime on the couch

Knowledge is power and reading is knowledge, so I’m thrilled to have three kids who love books! Here are a twelve things we do to encourage that trend:

  • Read to and with them often.
  • Let early readers read aloud to you. It builds confidence, gives kids a chance to ask for help with unknown words, and develops read-aloud skills.
  • Have books in the house. We built our library through hand-me-downs from friends and family, library book sales, and Scholastic sales.
  • Make the most of your local library. I’m amazed at the selection of books that are available, and I can even request books online and have them waiting at the front desk!
  • Don’t keep all the books in the same place. We have a book basket in the living room as well as a half bookshelf in the kids’ room. The living room basket houses our library books, and the bookshelf has our home library of children’s literature.
  • Take turns reading books they find interesting as well as books you find interesting. Everyone benefits from the diversification of topics! I’m learning a lot about spiders, scorpions, and other venomous creatures, at the moment…
  • Don’t limit their book selections based on perceived skill or understanding. I never would have expected my kindergartener’s reading to take off with the Ramona series, which I didn’t get into until second or third grade, but those were the books that caught her interest.
  • Let them see you reading. If they know that you value reading, they will value it as well.
  • Include wordless picture books in your library. They build narration skills, and help kids pay attention to plot sequencing.
  • Pay attention to reviews. I have found a number of our favorite books through blogs that I read on a regular basis – especially Mom and KiddoMouse Grows, Mouse Learns, and Adventures in Mommydom.
  • Encourage kids to write books of their own, and to narrate their drawings.
  • Try new types of books. My six-year-old adores poetry, and my two-year-old loves “sound books” full of onomatopoeias!

This list was spotted on Mama Smiles.

Click here for some books for kids.

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Scavenger Hunt

Nothing is more fun for a child then announcing a scavenger hunt. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just have them search for objects that they can find around the house. If you want to give them a reward for finding all the items on the list, think about taking them to that new park after or a special snack. This list is an example of items to include on your scavenger hunt provided by Educating Laytons.

 

Enjoy!

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Mexican Cornbread Salad

Looking for a way to celebrate Go Au Pair’s featured country, Mexico? Try this recipe from All Recipes for Mexican Cornbread Salad.
Original recipe makes 8 serving

1 (8.5 ounce) package dry corn bread mix

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 (6 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained

1 (16 ounce) bottle Ranch-style salad dressing

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 (15.25 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 (3 ounce) can bacon bits
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1 green onions

Directions

  1. Prepare corn bread mix according to package directions, adding green chiles. Set aside, allow to cool and crumble.
  2. Place half of cornbread in bottom of large bowl. Evenly layer with 1 can of beans, 1 cup salad dressing, 1/2 chopped bell pepper, 1 can corn, 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 jar bacon bits, 1/2 package cheese and 1/2 green onions. Repeat layers in same order using remaining ingredients, beginning with crumbled cornbread.
  3. Cover, refrigerate 2 hours and serve chilled.

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Growing up bilingual, bicultural and bi-happy

Want to give your kid an advantage? Teach them another language. Or five. Today, our nation is made up of many different cultures and when trying to relate, it certainly helps to reduce the language barrier. The following article was posted on NBC Right Now and discusses how to incorporate a second language in to your home. In addition to the items listed below, welcoming an Au Pair into your home can be an amazing cultural experience for your family as well as a member of another country. For more information about the cultural care experience, visit Go Au Pair at http://www.goaupair.com.
Developing habits that incorporate both cultures into kids’ daily routines will bring bicultural happiness to the family.

For parents who are raising kids in a bicultural household, teaching them to speak Ingles y Español is something of a passion. That’s why developing habits that incorporate both cultures into kids’ daily routines, says John Baugh — chair of the Public Relations Committee at the Linguistic Society of America and professor emeritus of education and linguistics at Stanford University — will bring bicultural happiness to la familia.

Engage them in activities from both culturas.

“Watch television in both languages, particularly the one that is not dominant in your speech community. Sing songs and nursery rhymes from both cultures. This will instill respect and familiarity with both,” says Baugh, the Margaret Bush Wilson professor in arts and sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Give both cultures equal importance.

“Depending upon the context in which people live, circumstances may imply that one culture may be devalued in comparison to the dominant culture and language,” adds Baugh. “If this impression exists, family members should do everything possible to maintain and value their family heritage, language and culture, while doing what’s necessary to gain fluency in the dominant language and culture.”

Baugh offers this final note: “The benefits of bilingualism and biculturalism are tremendous. Chinese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese are growing in global influence. People who are familiar with more than one language, and more than one culture, will be better equipped to participate more fully in the future global economy. This familiarity with languages and cultures besides English is an underutilized asset in a global economy that demands linguistic and cultural dexterity.”