Monica over at The Etiquette Factory has graciously shared her Manners for Kids – 21 Tips with us.
These tips are suggestions that will help you train your child in proper etiquette and manners. Try working on one at a time, before moving on to the next.
21 Manners for Kids Tips
- Practice proper introductions by allowing children to make up whatever name they want and introduce themselves to each other. When they score a perfect “10” with eye contact, a smile, a strong voice and a firm handshake, they win the prize.
- It is polite for children to address adults by their last names with proper titles, unless the adult has asked them to call them something else and the child has received permission from their own parents.
- Play musical chairs with your children practicing sitting down and placing their napkin properly in their lap (folded in half across legs) and then back to chair as they stand up from chair.
- Teaching children what “tact” means is very important. Have children draw a picture of one their favorite activities and then have children stand and present their picture to other children. Other children have to find one thing positive and sincere to say about each picture. This teaches them the meaning of “tact” which is finding something positive to say regardless of the situation.
- It’s polite to teach children to “stand” for adults and ladies. Next time you call children to the table, have them remain standing behind their chairs until host and all ladies have taken their seat. This teaches respect and helps build love between children and families.
- Teaching children to accept the word “No” graciously is an important life skill. Help them to understand what to say and what is expected when they hear you, a parent or a teacher tell them, “No.” For example, “Yes Mom. Thank you for considering it.”
- Regardless of how much we like something, it is polite to only take a single portion (fist size) of any item being served.
- To teach children what it feels like to have proper posture at the table, take a long scarf and tie around children attaching them to the chair :). Yes, they are tied to the chair with their backs straight. This is sometimes a real “eye opener” as to exactly how it feels to have proper posture at the table. Get the kids excited to try this experiment.
- Play the “telephone game” (whispering in one child’s ear a phrase, and then asking them to pass along the phrase until it reaches the last person who announces what the phrase it) in order for the children to understand why we don’t spread gossip and unkind stories about others as the stories change and the truth is lost as stories are passed along.
- Demonstrate for children the difference in “dabbing” our mouths and wiping our mouths. We shouldn’t eat messy enough that wiping or washing is required 🙂
- The best way to help children learn the proper way to cut food is to practice on sandwich bread. It cuts easily and they can practice and practice without a lot of expense.
- It’s polite to learn how to take turns talking. Have two children stand and tell about their favorite vacation. “Time” them giving them 3 minutes maximum to tell their story. Help them to see why it’s polite to take turns but to also learn to estimate time better so they are not “conversation hoggers.”
- It is never polite to ever announce at the dinner table our “dislikes”. The only polite way to decline something we don’t care for is to say, “No thank you.”
- It’s our job to introduce our friends whom do not know each other to one another. Have your children practice introducing each other to others. Once again, using “made up” names just makes it more fun.
- Learning how to make a sincere apology is a wonderful skill. Have children take turns accidentally taking each others’ seat, or tearing up a toy, or running into them and then help them to apologize sincerely, which means; not making excuses, saying “I’m sorry”, committing to trying not to repeat the mistake and keeping our word.
- Teaching are children the rules of borrowing is the best way to help them learn to love sharing. The most important thing to remember when borrowing from another is to commit to when we will return the item. For example, “Thank you Kristi for allowing me to borrow your movie. I will return it on Monday.”
- Help your child identify a few things they own that it is OK not to share. Everyone has special items that were given to them by a friend or simply very expensive that it is perfectly polite to say, “I’m sorry but that is one thing I do not share because it is so special to me.” This helps children feel more comfortable sharing the other things that were not identified.
- Help your children set the table for a 4-5 course meal at least once per week. It’s ok to use plastic utensils. Practicing is the only way that your child will be able to feel comfortable when they find themselves in this situation. Confidence is key.
- Encourage our children to respect those they are with by keeping our cell phones turned “off” when spending time with our children, especially at the dinner table.
- Have children list all the ways that someone can be dishonest, for example: telling a lie, leaving out important details, exaggerating, taking credit for something we didn’t do, not informing someone when they made a mistake like giving back too much change, hiding information, etc. Ladies and gentlemen are honest in all things.
- Teaching your children to respect other people’s property, possessions, etc. is very important. Have your child clean their room. Then, secretly go in and make a small mess in their room. Bring them in and allow them to react. Ask them questions like: “How do you feel about that? Why would someone make a mess in your room after you had worked so hard to clean it? What does this action tell you the person was feeling towards your time and effort? AFter this important discussion, tell your child the truth and why you did it. Of course clean up the mess but help your child to understand that this is how others feel when we go into their space and are careless with their things, or their space or their time.
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