Etiquette: 10 Must-Have Manners for Kids


Want other people to love your child? Train him to use good manners. Using good manners isn’t a stuffy, elitist practice–it’s the way we say to those around us that we respect them and care about their comfort and feelings. Here are some basics that every child should know:

1. Please and Thank You. Even as your toddler is learning to speak, prompt him to add “please” to his requests and respond with “thank you” when they’re met. A habit started this early is effortless and typically lasts forever.

2. Table Manners. Remind your child to be considerate of others at the table by never talking while chewing food, keeping elbows off the table, and by politely passing things as asked. Even a small child can learn to keep a napkin on his lap and wipe his mouth as needed.

3. Don’t Interrupt. Here’s an easy solution for kids who interrupt while you’re talking to someone else in person or on the phone.  Have your child place her hand gently on your arm.  You can then look at her and acknowledge her request for your attention.  If she forgets, remind her of the rule, and return to your conversation.

4. Conversation Courtesy.  Teach your children the basics: make eye contact when talking to others; don’t give automatic answers like “I don’t know.”  “Yeah.”  “Whatever.”

5. Excuse Me 1 and 2. If there is an emergency or a need which can’t wait, teach your child to say, “excuse me” to politely enter your conversation and get your help. Your child should also know that if they do something accidentally, like bumping into someone or accidentally burping, the remedy is to say “excuse me.”

6. Knock, Knock. Teach your child to knock before opening a closed door.

7. A Good Guest. When visiting in a friend’s home for a play date or party, teach her to respect all the household rules (even if they’re different from your own), and to clean up after herself. Before leaving, she should thank her friend and the friend’s parents for the invitation.

8. Phone Manners. When placing a call, your child should identify himself and then politely ask to speak to his friend (“Hi, this is Sam Williams. May I please speak with David?”) Practice this by letting your child call you on your cell phone and ask for someone. On the flipside, when answering the phone, your child should know to say hello, and then politely respond to the request of the caller (“Hello?…Yes, she’s here. Just a moment and I’ll get her.”)

9. No Comment. Teach your children to refrain from commenting on another person’s appearance or physical characteristics unless it’s to pay them a compliment, which is always nice.

10. A Gracious Receiver. If your child receives a gift, she should thank the giver upon receiving it, and follow up with a nice note or email expressing their appreciation.

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