Top 20 Manners Children Should Know

Manners Children Should Know

The top 20 manners that a child should know are listed in detail below. Most of them are very basic, but not all parents remember to enforce all of these manners all of the time. Once these basic manners are instilled in your child as an automatic reaction, other courteous behavior and mannerisms will develop naturally and your child will adjust to social situations with very little trouble later in life. The following are taken from the work of David Lowry, PhD and have been summarized from the 25 basic manners in the original work.

Manner 1: “Please” and “Thank You”

These should be the first manners that children are taught when they are old enough to begin speaking:Manners A Child Should Know

  • You must say “Please” when you want something form someone else (also known as the “Magic Word”).
  • You must say thank you when someone gives you something or does something for you, no matter what it is.

It is very important that your child develops the understanding that these manners apply in all situations and not just when parents are around. Ask them if they said thank you to their friend who gave them a toy earlier in the day to indicate that the manners are not contingent on your presence.

Manner 2: Interruptions And “Excuse Me”

Another manner that children need to learn early on is that they cannot interrupt when others, especially adults, are speaking. Waiting patiently until the adults have finished in order to interject is the most polite way to achieve this. If there is an emergency, or if the child can see that the adults in question have not noticed that he or she is waiting to speak, teach them that the phrase “excuse me” is an appropriate way to enter the conversation. After they have said this phrase they must wait to be acknowledged or given permission to speak. Clearly there are emergency situations where this is not necessary.

Manner 3: Ask Permission

It is very important that you teach children to ask before they do something. This is especially true in cases where:

  • They have been told on previous occasions that they need permission to do something.
  • They are not sure whether they are allowed to do something or not because they have not encountered the situation before.

Teach your child that asking for permission before doing something can save them a lot of trouble later on. Sometimes they will get into trouble for doing things that they are allowed to do simply because they did not ask permission first. In addition they will be saved punishment for doing things they are not allowed to do.

Manner 4: Keeping Negative Opinions Silent

This is a very important skill and one of the most important top 20 manners that children should know because it will be carried forward into adulthood and save your adult child a lot of grief later in life. It is important that you teach your child that, if they have a negative opinion about something or someone, that they keep that opinion to themselves. They can share the opinion with their parents in private if they have questions regarding the matter, and they can discuss it with friends who share the same opinion, within reason, but the negative opinion should not be expressed publicly.

Manner 5: Commenting On Physical Characteristics

This manner is related to the previous manner in that it involves opinions and when you should and should not express them. The basic principles here are:

  • Do not say something negative about a person’s physical characteristics as this is impolite and may hurt their feelings.
  • BUT you may something positive about a person’s personal characteristics as this is a compliment and will make the person like you a little more.

When teaching this manner to your children, you can use the “How would you feel if…” approach in order to help your child develop empathy and see what it would be like to be the recipient of a negative comment.

Manner 6: “Fine Thanks, You?”

This is a convention that we carry forward with us throughout our adult lives and it is therefore very important that you teach your child how to respond when someone asks “How are you?” The usual response is “Fine, thank you, and you?”, but if you want your child to develop honesty they should be encouraged to say how they really are briefly and without too much detail. The skill is to respond promptly to the query, and, most importantly, to show interest in the other person’s well being by asking them how they are in return. This skill can be practiced between you and your child on a daily basis when you get home from work.

Manner 7: “Thanks for Having Me”

This is related to the first manner in that it involves thanking others. When your child is at a friend’s house they need t thank their friend’s parents for having them when they leave. This also applies a t:

  • Family gatherings
  • Church functions
  • Birthday parties

In any situation where your child pays a visit to a place outside of their own home, they need to be taught to say thank you for the opportunity to go there and attend the event in question. Again you need to teach them that this must be done even when you are not around to see them do it.

Manner 8: Always Knock

You need to teach your child that barging into a closed room is not polite. The rule is that they knock about three times on the door loudly enough to be heard, but not so loudly that it is annoying, and then wait for permission to enter or another response. If no response is heard and if it is an emergency the child may enter anyway, but if it is not important, the child should leave and try again later (depending on the nature of the child’s query or need). This can be taught by closing your bedroom or study door at a time of day when your child is likely to need you and enforcing the “always knock” principle in them.

Manner 9: Basic Phone Etiquette

Making a phone call is something that a lot of children struggle with in terms of being polite, especially when they are earning. Have them practice by calling up family members who are collaborating with you. The steps to start a phone conversation are:

  • Wait for the person to answer and finish speaking.
  • Introduce yourself by name.
  • Ask if you can speak with the person who is calling.
  • Thank the messenger when they indicate that they will fetch that person or when they say the person is not there.

Manner 10: Being Appreciative

Children should always say thank you when they receive a gift. Because many parents do not see it as polite to open a gift in front of the person who has given it, this often necessitates thank you notes. Although emailed notes are more convenient it will seem more thoughtful and meaningful if you encourage your child to write thank you notes by hand. This should be done after every birthday celebration and Christmas event where the child should thank the various people verbally as well as sending the thank you notes shortly after the event. Any other gifts given throughout the year must also be responded to in this way. Teach your children that saying thank you is necessary even if they do not like the gift.

Manner 11: Bad Language

Bad language should not be used in front of adults because:

  1. They already know all the words
  2. It is disrespectful to the adults
  3. Adults find such language boring at best and offensive at worst, which could get your child into trouble

Again you need to indicate that the “no bad language” rule applies even when you are not around. It is harder to enforce this rule when your children are with friends, but ensure that they know what your general feelings on the matter are.

Manner 12: Name Calling And Making Fun Of Others

Teach your child that calling other people mean names or making fun of them is unpleasant and ask them to reflect on how they would feel if they were the recipient of such cruel treatment. This goes hand in hand with discouraging bullying, especially bullying in groups. Indicate that you understand that this makes them feel better than other children, but really it shows everyone else that they are weaker because they have to be in a group before they can challenge a single child. Look for signs that your child is being bullied or is a bully and take the necessary steps to put an end to either behavior.

Manner 13: Sit Still And Pretend To Be Interested

In many cases your child may find himself in a situation where he may feel incredibly bored. Such situations include:

  • School assemblies
  • Plays
  • Concerts

Early on in life your child needs to learn that, no matter how bored they are, it is polite to sit still and look interested (if they can’t manage both, then sitting still is the skill to focus on) until the end of the play. The people on stage are doing their best and they worked very hard to be there. Appreciation for others is necessary before others are likely to show much appreciation for you, something that applies throughout life.

Manner 14: “Excuse Me”

Another important manner to teach your child is that “excuse me” has two uses. The first use, mentioned previously, involves interrupting a conversation when you have something important to say. The second use for “excuse me” is when you bump into someone when you are walking or riding your bicycle. No matter whom it is that your child bumps into, their automatic reaction should be to say “excuse me” immediately and without hesitation. Your child should also learn that he or she should wait for a moment to see how the other person reacts and apologize further if further apology is necessary. “Excuse me” should also be used when another person bumps into you and it is not your fault.

Manner 15: Coughing, Sneezing and Nose Picking

In terms of bodily functions, children need to be taught that, in public as well as in private, they must:

  • Cover their mouth with their hand when coughing or sneezing.
  • They must never pick their nose.

Leading by example will be helpful in instilling these rules, especially at an early age when children learn largely through mimicry of their parents. This is an important thing to remember at all times. You are your child’s primary role model and they at an early age they notice everything that you do. Consequently you need to practice good manners yourself if you want your child to develop good manners as well.

Manner 16: Holding Doors

Children need to develop a natural inclination to think about the needs of others. A good way to get them started in this way of thinking is by encouraging them to check if anyone else needs to come through a door behind them (or in front of them going in the other direction), before they close the door. This is true for strangers in public places, but at home the child must remember to only leave the door open for other family members and friends and not to hold it open for someone that they do not know.

Manner 17: Offering Help

Encourage children to spontaneously offer their help when they see a parent or teacher doing something. Tell them that by doing this they can:

  • Learn something new
  • Develop skills that they have already learned
  • Make the person more likely to help them the next time they need help

This is one of the harder manners to teach and it is far from being natural. At first you will have to frame the idea as a question: “Do you think Mrs. Jones needs some help with that?” and then prompting the child to offer his or her help. Eventually the inclination will become natural and will not require your guidance or prompting.

Manner 18: Graciously Doing Favors

It is very important that your child develops a natural ability to do something that an adult asks him or her to do without grumbling and with a smile on their face. If they are not willing to graciously do favors for others, indicate to them that others will not be willing to do favors for them in the future. In addition it is a way for others to like you. At a young age children judge what is good and what is bad based on whether or not other people like them after they have done something. A moral compass only develops later, so indicating that others will like them is a good way to instill manners.

Manner 19: Thank Others For Help

If someone helps your child they need to be taught to say “thank you”. Tell your child that this will:

  • Encourage the person to help you again.
  • Make the person like you a bit more.

This is especially true with teachers. School will be more enjoyable for your child if your teacher sees him or her as appreciative. To instill this ask your child if they thanked their teacher for the help that she gave him or her when they tell a story about their school day. Eventually they will thank their teacher automatically without prompting.

Manner 20: Table Manners

The basic table manners that you should teach your child is that they must use eating utensils properly, keep a napkin on their lap and use it to wipe their mouth when necessary, and that they should not reach for things at the table but rather ask to have them passed. In some cases table manners can be relaxed, such as when children are older teenagers and have their friends around the table or in cases where you are having a TV dinner. However, when company is expected, enforcing the basic table manner is very important so that you and your family as a whole will make a good impression on your guests.

These manners are the same basic manners that your own parents taught you when you were a child and consequently they should come naturally to you as a parent. The manners need to be clearly laid out for your child. A reward system where gold stars are awarded for consistently good manners in general or in specific social situations with corresponding black marks for rudeness will help instill theses manners at the beginning stages. However the reward system eventually needs be done away with as the child becomes automatically courteous in all situations they encounter.