What manners should you be teaching your children now?
Always say “Please” and “Thank You”
Children should know to always say “please” when they are asking for something and to say “thank you” when they receive something whether it be something of tangible value or if someone has provided them help. This is a simple gesture that goes a long way.
Introducing yourself or your friends
A pet peeve of mine is when someone comes into my home and they have never met me before and they do not introduce themselves or when someone brings another person to my home and doesn’t introduce them to me. “Hi, Mr. DeNicola this is my friend Melissa”. Now you may be saying what if the child is shy and feels uncomfortable – then a simple “hello my name is ‘whatever’ and thank you for having me”. I’m not looking to interrogate the person. I’d just like to know their name since they are now in my home.
Not interrupting a conversation
Never interrupt an adult conversation that they are not a part of. Nor should they interrupt another individual if they are part of the conversation. Let the person finish speaking and then speak. This is the proper etiquette for a conversation. A child who interrupts will continue to do so later in life. This could be detrimental for office life in later years. If you need to get someone’s attention the proper term to use is “Excuse Me”.
Asking for permission
Teach the child to ask for permission instead of just grabbing. If the child isn’t certain they should be taking a particular item they should ask. This goes for the dinner table as well. Don’t reach across for the bread. Simply ask someone to pass the bread to you. Always ask permission.
Good table manners
While we’re mentioning the dinner table let’s discuss good table manners. Chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk with your mouth full. I can see what you’re eating by looking at your plate. I don’t need to see it in your mouth. There are other manners children should know like:
- Put your napkin in your lap
- No cell phones at the table
- Elbows off the table
- Wash your hands before coming to the table
- Wait until everyone is served before you eat
- Help clean up the table when all are finished
Saying Hello and Goodbye
Children should learn to say hello and goodbye. I don’t need you to play a fanfare when you see me or when you leave but the least you could do is say hello and goodbye. This is doubly important if you’re in my home. A well-mannered child will become a well-mannered adult. Leaving without saying goodbye as adults is often referred to as the Irish Exit.
Hold the door
If you’ve just walked through a door stop and hold the door open for others. Children will mimic your behavior and trust me if you show them they will gladly do it. I love when I’m walking into a store and a little girl or boy holds the door open for me. I always go out of my way to thank them.
I’m not traditionally a tree hugger or environmentalist but we’re at a point on this planet where we need to do all we can to reverse the damage that’s been done. I find fast food bags and other assorted garbage thrown from car windows in front of my house on a weekly basis. These are teenagers that were never taught not to litter. It infuriates me when I go to the movies and see what the place looks like afterward. Empty popcorn buckets and soda cups everywhere. Take your garbage with you and throw in the proper place. A messy child will be a messy adult.
Writing thank-you notes or calling
It’s only right that when your child receives a gift from a relative or friend that they take the time to acknowledge the gift with a thank you note (if they can write) or at least a phone call. It only takes a minute to call and thank someone for spending their hard earned money on a gift for you. This helps teach gratitude, something we should all practice as adults.
It’s not if you win or lose it’s how you play the game. We’ve all heard this mantra before yet at every single little league baseball or soccer game you attend there are adults yelling at the umpire or referee about something. What are you teaching your children when you’re acting like this? Win and lose gracefully. Losing gracefully is tough to do at times for children and adults. The acceptance of being defeated is difficult.
But every loss provides a reason and inspiration to do better. You can do the best of your ability but sometimes the other team may just be better than you. Maybe it wasn’t your day. Don’t be a sour sport and make excuses. Own up to the loss and accept it.
The same goes for winning. Teach your children to be as gracious in winning as they are in losing. Don’t allow them to “show up” the other team. Have them be respectful. If you’ve ever watched the end of the Stanley Cup Finals in hockey both teams meet at center ice to shake hands. Men who were battling for a week or more stop to honor each other. Win or lose they are gracious.
Ask to be excused
When your child wants to leave the dinner table they should ask to be excused. They can not just get up and leave. This also goes for restaurants. The restaurant is not a track and field course. When everyone has finished eating you can ask to get up and leave the table but not before. Of course, there could be extenuating circumstances like homework that needs to be done but they still should ask.
Apologizing when it’s necessary
Manners include owning up to your mistakes and apologizing if you’ve done something wrong. Acknowledge the mistake or error that’s been made. Honesty is important for children to learn in order to be trustworthy adults.
Don’t be mean with your words
Do not make comments about people’s physical characteristics or outward appearance. The old adage says if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything. This behavior creates bullies and we know how terrible that can be. Be nice to others. Mean people suck!
Respond when asked a question
Part of growing up and becoming an adult is learning how to hold a meaningful conversation. That begins with answering questions when asked. If an adult were to ask a child how they’re feeling they should always respond and in return ask how the other person is feeling. Communication is a two-way street and children need to learn early on to show proper manners and respond to questions.
Knock before entering a room
Everyone needs their privacy and expects it to be respected. Children’s manners need to include knocking before entering a room. Knock and wait for a response before entering. Don’t just barge in.
Help when necessary
A well-mannered child will ask if you need help doing something. If they see you struggling to bring the groceries in they will leap up and ask to carry something. They should also help with cleaning up the dinner table and at the very least bringing their dirty laundry to the laundry room. Parents, neighbors, teachers, everyone your child encounters could use help at some point. Teach them to ask to help and who knows, they may even learn something new!
Cover your mouth and nose
Proper manners include covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. I always told our girls to cough into your elbow. Nobody wants to be sprayed with kid germs, and they are full of them! On that note teach them to say excuse me if they burp or pass gas. They can still giggle while they are saying excuse me because at any age fart = funny.
Put things back where you found them
This message tends to get lost on children but try your best to get them to put things back when they use them. It makes clean up so much easier. If they remove a toy teach them to put it back where they found it. Involve them in the cleanup process and don’t do it for them.
Keep your hands to yourself
Never lay hands on another person. Do not push, punch or hit another child. This is not the way to solve a problem and will only lead to bigger problems.
Make eye contact when being spoken to
When an adult or anyone is speaking always make eye contact. Put your phone down and look the person in the eye. The worst manners I see are from teenagers who can’t pull their eyes away from their cell phones for even a second to answer your questions. Eye contact is a vital part of human interactions and conversation.
Never underestimate the power of teaching your children good manners at an early age. The earlier they start learning the better. Simply saying please and thank you can teach your children to be a compassionate and kinder person. And we all know we could use more kindness these days.
Are there any manners I may have missed that you would add to this list? Let us know below in the comments section.