Develop Your Kid’s Manners Beyond Please and Thank You

Having good manners is an incredibly important life skill.

And like so many other things, getting kids into the habit of using manners at an early age makes things much easier in the long haul.

As my kids age and begin to play away from home and interact with teachers and parents, I’m noticing that they don’t always use eye contact when speaking with others and they often forget to say “excuse me.”

I’ve also noticed that simply telling them to make eye contact isn’t enough. They need to know why this is important for them. After all, they see their father and I using manners all the time, so they know that these are things that people are supposed to do, but kids want to know what the point is.

When I explain the why behind certain manners, their eyes light up with comprehension. “Ohhhh,” they say. “Okay!” And they begin to practice it.

Try to model the kinds of behavior your want to see in your kids. Trust me—they are paying attention.(Even when you don’t want them to!)

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11 Best Manners to Teach Kids

Here are what I consider to be the 11 most important manners for kids and my reasons WHY they are important.

While many of these seem like common sense, kids don’t know what’s expected of them until you explain it. Make your expectations clear, and then model it yourself so they can see good manners in action.

  1. Say please. (Shows consideration for others.)
  2. Say thank you. (Shows appreciation and gratitude.)
  3. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. (Shows respect for the other person.)
  4. Apologize. (Shows empathy and that you are taking responsibility for your actions.)
  5. Smile & have a good attitude. (Makes everything better for yourself and others!)
  6. Make small talk. (Important social skill for friendships and, later in life, getting and keeping a job.)
  7. Ask questions of others. (Shows interest in others’ ideas and feelings.)
  8. Saying excuse me. (Shows consideration for others.)
  9. Look for opportunities to compliment others. (Makes others feel good, helps with reciprocal relationships.)
  10. Share. (Shows others you care, helps you to think of others, makes you appreciate what you have.)
  11. Treat others they way you want to be treated. (Covers all bases!)

Ways to Reinforce Good Manners in Your Family

  •  Read a book about manners. Some of my favorites include Please Say Please, Perfect Pigs, Dude, That’s Rude, Are You Quite Polite, The Berenstein Bears Forget Their Manners, and The Thingamajig Book of Manners. Most should be available through Kent District Library or your local bookstore.
  • Give your kids “the talk” before going to school, the store, a friend’s house, or relatives’ house. It sounds basic, but a quick reminder about what your expectations are for behavior can go a long way!
  • Create your own list of family manners. Focus on the ones that are important for your own family. State them in a positive way and post them somewhere as a reminder for everyone.
  • Make a manners competition within your household. Have a marble jar or a sticker chart for every family member and give each other points for using good manners. At the end of the week, let the winner pick dessert for the night, choose a fun family activity for the night, have the evening off from chores, or some other incentive of his or her choice.
  • Come up with a fun phrase or sound that all family members can use as a reminder for one another when manners are forgotten. Some ideas: a buzzer sound, “rewind,” “oops, you forgot something,” or “let’s try that again.”

Do you have tips to share? Leave us a comment!

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Top 10 Manners Kids Need to Learn

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