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10 Manners and Etiquette Tips Your Kids Need

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Recently, a friend hosted a manners and etiquette class for our kids at her home followed by tea. It was such a fun experience. My kids and I came away with a lot of conversation topics about everything from how to set the table for dinner to how to correct each other if someone is breaking a manners and etiquette rule.

You might want to consider hosting a manners and etiquette tea of your own. In the meantime, here are 10 manners and etiquette tips that will benefit your kids in the real world and make your own family meals at home more mannered.

1. Place setting practice.

Starting from the outside working in is the rule of thumb I have always remembered when eating at a formal table setting. My friend found a very simple and easy way to teach our kids how to set a table and remember what things are for. She used the word FORKS.  The letter O represents the plate. The F is for fork, and goes to the left of the plate. R is to the right of the plate, where K stands for the knife placement and S for the spoon placement. It was such a simple device that really helped them remember how to set the table. Now they take turns setting our table the proper way for supper each night.

Everyday Place SettingYou can also use our iMOM Placemat printables. This one is for a formal place setting, and this one is for an everyday place setting. 

2. Where to sit.

Teach your child to check with his hostess or host before sitting down to a meal at someone’s house. If it’s a formal affair (and, yes, they will attend those one day!), teach your child to look for a place setting card with their name on it.

3. Proper spooning.

The proper way to spoon soup is from the inside of your bowl going out the opposite direction. The reason for this is so it doesn’t splash on your clothing. Teaching them to do this during a breakfast with grits or oatmeal is perfect. They won’t have to change shirts and will see the value in spooning their food from the chest outward.

4. Something’s in my food.

We’ve all had this experience. Whether you are at a fancy restaurant or with friends for supper, there has been a moment where you are completely grossed out by finding something in your food that shouldn’t be there.  At home, my younger kids used to walk over to the trash can and spit it out. Recently, we taught them to spit the bite into their napkin. The three-year-old is still mastering this technique, but practice makes perfect.

5. Standing rules.

Standing when someone gets up, leaves a room, or leaves your home is a manners and etiquette must. This is a forgotten manner that will make the difference in how others think of your children. So many children are wrapped up in electronics, they don’t even realize when someone leaves a room. It’s respectful for them to acknowledge someone entering a room or leaving it. I want my guests to feel appreciated and acknowledged at all times by not only myself but my children.

6. Taking turns.

I purposely don’t allow my kids to interrupt when I am speaking with another adult. If I am speaking with someone and one of my kiddos walks up and starts tattling or asking to do something, I have a standard response. I ask the person I am speaking with to give me one second and I look at the child that is interrupting and acknowledge them and say, “You interrupted our conversation. If you could wait for just one moment for Mrs. _____ to finish speaking, I will address your need then,” and I make them wait. So many times the person who was originally speaking will say, “No, it’s okay, let them go ahead and talk to you.” That’s when I need to remind them, “No, it’s not okay.” I want them to learn to be respectful, and unless it’s an emergency, they can wait for one moment for us to finish this thought.

7. Be gracious.

It truly is a blessing to be invited over for dinner or to eat out. We have a rule that no matter what is given to you for you to eat, you need to, at least, eat two bites, and then if you do not like it, do not ask for more. It’s important for them to understand that doing so is acknowledging the host’s time and thoughtfulness that went into the meal.

8. There’s a time for that.

Appropriate table talk is a subject that comes up quite often at our dinner table. We have three boys so there are a lot of stories, words, and jokes that are not okay for table talk. We let them know there is a time and a place where you may talk about that story, but the dinner table is not it. We have directed them back to conversations about school, friends, the food itself, and even the weather.

9. Where is your place at the door?

This is a big one in my book. My boys are taught early (like as soon as they are strong enough to open a door) to hold the door for my daughter and me. It is so engrained in them that I watched my 8-year-old hold open a door for people at a Disney resort to get on the monorail for about three minutes. I was so proud of him as he stood there holding it open, but unfortunately only two people out of probably 100 said, “Thank you.”

10. Kind words go a long away.

Last but not least is the obvious that I did not want to leave out. All of the magic words: please, thank you, may I, yes ma’am, no ma’am, and excuse me. These are important keywords to keep in our children’s everyday vocabulary. It not only shows that they have manners but also that they are respectful.

Preparing our children for formal and informal settings outside of our home is very important. Kids today are lacking in manners because we don’t place a high value on them as a whole in society. {Tweet This} Let’s get back to the basics with this list of 10 manners and then take a look at our 10 Social Manners for Children Printable to help you take it a step further with your children.

What other manners do you think are important to teach your children to have outside the home?


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