'Real Housewives' Countess Luann: Please and thank you are NOT optional

Feb. 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM ET

You may know her as Countess Luann -- and don't forget the title, if you please -- from "The Real Housewives of New York." She shares her thoughts on raising well mannered children with TODAY Moms.

Countess Luann wants to teach your children manners.

By Countess Luann de Lesseps

My “real” job as a mom to two teens is challenging, and when the cameras are rolling, my kid’s behavior is on display for all to see. I hope they will display good manners and show our viewers how a lifetime of learning good manners pays off. I began instilling good behavior in my children when they were very young, and I still use much of what my mother taught me about raising polite and considerate children.

I was raised in a family of seven children and my mother was strict. I run my household with a firm hand as well and have high expectations for my children. When my children were learning how to talk, the words “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome” and “excuse me” quickly became a part of their fledgling vocabularies.

Because my children are in the public eye, they have to be on their best behavior to avoid gossip and criticism. Occasionally, like other teenagers, they fall short, but overall I’m very proud of the way they’ve handled our foray into reality television.  Away from the cameras, both my children have nurtured their passions for art, horseback riding, camping and skateboarding. They are good hosts when their friends visit our home, and I taught them from a very young age to clean up after themselves and be respectful of our home.

For all the moms out there reading this who are struggling with their children’s behavior, I say do not be discouraged because it’s never too late to refine your children’s social graces. The best thing a mom can do is to set a good example for her kids by being considerate, kind and consistent in her expectations for good behavior. Children want to please us and they want to make others happy, but it is up to us to set the standard and to walk the walk. Remember to compliment your children when you catch them being good, because children respond more to praise than to criticism.

Countess Luann de Lesseps is a mother of two teenagers, a star of the reality television series "The Real Housewives of New York," author of the manners and etiquette guide, "Class With The Countess," and an Ultra Records recording artist.