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Teaching Etiquette Early
Manners Matter

Are your little one's elbows on the table during meals? Do you get back talk from your toddler? Does he chew with his mouth open? Does she excuse herself when she needs to go to the restroom?

How are your kids doing when it comes to good manners and social graces?

Teaching your children social skills early will help boost your child's confidence, preparing him for success in the world outside your home. Proper etiquette is one of the most important lessons a child needs to learn, along with core life skills such as reading, math, and music. As adults, we are all expected to behave in a certain way, adhering to certain rules when it comes to social interactions - and as parents, the last thing we want is to have a child that everyone avoids because they don't have good manners.


Let's start with the three basic ideas that define good manners - Common sensesocial Customs and Consideration for others.

Common Sense means paying attention to the obvious, which - even for adults - is not as easy as it sounds. Ask your little one, "Is it okay to push people in a line just because you're in a hurry?" or "Is it right to hurt your playmates just because you're angry?"

Socials customs are the way things are done, which can be specific to where you liveIn Japan, it is polite to bow to people when you meet them for the first time; in Western culture, it is more socially acceptable to shake hands.

And most importantly, consideration for others is the regard for the feelings and needs of others and an awareness of the impact of one's own behavior on them. This can be as simple as thinking about how other people feel when we behave in a certain way - being rude to someone constitutes bad manners not because a book says so, but simply because it hurts someone else's feelings.


Teaching the three basic ideas above inside the home will guarantee that your children will behave well outside the home. But as parents, it's important to remember that if you tell your children about proper etiquette yet fail to practice them yourself, then your children may imitate what you do and not do as you say.


Here are a few suggestions to help you get started in teaching your child better manners, at home and outside.

  1. Help protect the environment, and put litter in its proper place or recycling bin.
  2. Say "sorry" to people you accidentally hurt.
  3. Remember to say "please" and "thank you."
  4. Say "excuse me" when you need to leave and go to the bathroom.
  5. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. It's bad to stare at people or make fun of how other people look.
  6. Don't talk if your mouth is full.
  7. Keep elbows off the table.
  8. Chew with your mouth closed.
  9. Food is for eating and not playing.
  10. If the food that you want is too far from you, ask for someone to pass it; don't reach across the table for it.

Before stepping out of the home, it helps to talk to your little one about good manners and how you expect him to behave. Remember that young children learn better through repetition, and need frequent reminders to guide them. Praise your children for using good manners, and if you need to let them know that they have misbehaved in public, lead him away from other people before correcting him.

Most importantly, remember to be well-mannered yourself. If you expect your children to have good manners, you should be the first to follow your instructions - Your kids watch everything you do, and if they see that some actions produce positive results, they will get used to using good manners in day to day interactions, assuming that the right way is the only way things should be done.

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