Teaching manners to kids can be challenging. You need to reinforce and remind your child what proper manners are. Telling children once not to chew with their mouth open will not change their behavior, you must consistently remind them and praise them when they use good manners. Good manners also must be role-modeled by parents because kids watch our every move. You can’t expect your child to have good manners if you don’t practice them.
There are many important manners kids need to learn, but this post will focus on five essential manners.
1. Good table manners.
I could focus the whole blog on just table manners, but here are a few important ones to teach your children.
- Chew with your mouth closed and chew quietly.
- Wait to eat until everyone has been served.
- Put your napkin on your lap and to use it to wipe their mouth but never to blow their nose.
- Don’t eat food with your fingers. Once your children are old enough to use utensils teach them how to hold their utensils properly. The photo at right shows how to hold your utensils when cutting meat.
2. Introduce yourself and others.
A child who introduces himself makes a good impression on others, whereas one who does not is overlooked. Teach your child that when at a party or meeting new neighbors to say something like “Hi, my name is Mary, I live at the end of the block.”
Explain to your child that when introducing two people they say the name first of the older person or person with a title and say the name of the younger person or person without a title second. Example: “Coach Ball this is my friend Mary Smith.”
3. Conversation skills.
It’s important children learn how to carry on a conversation and not just a monologue. Here are a few things to teach them.
- Listen, don’t interrupt
- Don’t just wait for your turn to talk, really listen to what the other person is saying.
- Teach them to ask questions that show a sincere interest in the other person.
- Spend time at dinner having conversations. Don’t allow your child to use technology at the table. If you catch them texting try this rule a Twitter follower shared, “if you text you have to share it.” My follower said “it stops texts dead.”
As a parent, reinforce listening skills by giving your child your full attention when he or she is talking. Put that smart phone down. Be a good role model.
4. Write thank you notes.
Handwritten thank you notes are just as important today as ever and will help your child stand out and be appreciated.
One of my corporate clients, a large CPA firm, said that they won’t offer a job to any candidate who does not send a thank you note after the interview.
The hard part about thank you notes is kids need to be reminded and prompted to write them. And, they need help, especially when they are little, to learn what to say.
A few note pointers to help:
- Have a supply of note cards on hand. Your child will be more likely to write one if it’s handy.
- Send the card within 48 hours so that feelings are still fresh about the gift, party or favor
- Follow this format for thank you notes:
- Say thank you for the gift or whatever it is you received.
- Let the giver know what you plan to do with it or have done with it.
- Tell the person how much you like the gift or why you are so happy with it
- If your child didn’t like the gift or received a duplicate have him or her say something about how thoughtful it was of the giver to give them a gift.
5. Be nice and courteous to others.
This is the most important manner and even if your child’s manners are not perfect if he or she is a nice, courteous child he or she will do well in life.
- Teach them to respect differences, that every family does things differently. Explain that there is no right or wrong way of doing things.
- Talk about the importance of being kind to others and not intentionally hurting people.
- Teach them to say “please” and “thank you”. It’s amazing what a difference it makes in your perception of a child who says “please” and “thank you”.
- Look for ways to help others whether it’s holding the door open for someone, helping someone with heavy bags, visiting a sick friend in the hospital or sticking up for a child who’s being picked on.
- Teach them to look for the positive. For example, explain that even if they didn’t like the meal they were served at a friend’s house to find something to comment on positively such as the dessert or the effort put into the meal.
Those are five essential manners your child should have. Remember, manners start at home so it’s important to expect good manners at home as well as out and about. If you reinforce and role-model good manners and correct bad manners your child will learn to be a well mannered child and he or she will have more success socially and professionally.
Need some help teaching manners to your child? We offer regular etiquette and social skills classes.