Teaching your children basic manners like “Please” and “Thank you” is easy enough. But there are a whole host of other subtle manners you might want to instill in them from a young age. For inspiration, here are 15 to get started with.
1. Make eye contact.
Teach your children to make eye contact when they’re speaking with adults and other children.
2. Practice active listening.
Encourage your children to practice active listening — nodding their head, making eye contact, following along, not playing on their phones and just generally being involved in the conversation.
3. Knock before opening doors.
Children should know from a young age that a closed door means that someone needs privacy.
Encourage them to knock or say something gently to see if the room is available.
4. Wait their turn to speak.
Encourage children not to interrupt other people while they are talking.
Ask them to wait until there is a pause in the conversation before speaking.
5. Ask to pet dogs.
Teach your children to always ask for permission before petting a stranger’s dog.
You never know how the dog might react.
6. Teach your children to show gratitude and appreciation.
Thank you notes, even ones sent via email, are still a meaningful way to show gratitude to someone or an organization.
7. Keep negative thoughts to themselves.
Teach your children to be polite with the mantra, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
8. Do the vampire cough.
Teach your children to cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow, like vampire, rather than into their hands.
9. Hold open the door.
Instruct your children to slow down and hold open the door for anyone coming or going near them.
Don’t let the door slam in someone’s face.
10. Never litter, always recycle.
Encourage good habits by teaching them about recycling and asking your children to never throw trash anywhere other than a garbage can.
11. Congratulate the winner.
Win or lose, it’s important to have good sportsmanship and tell the other team or competitor, “Good game.”
12. Teach them to ask reciprocal questions.
If an adult asks, “How are you?” encourage your children to answer, then ask the same question back.
13. Keep music and voices low.
Encourage your children to keep their music and their voices low anytime these sounds could disturb someone else.
14. Say ‘Excuse me.’
Teach them to use the phrase, “Excuse me,” anytime they need to step out of the room, squeeze through a crowd of people or ask someone a question.
15. Practice table manners.
Tell your children to sit on their bottoms at the dinner table and never to reach across another person; ask them to pass the dish instead.
There are a lot of manners to unpack here, but it’s really just simple little things you probably do every single day as an adult. Slowly and surely, you can encourage your children to do the same. And remember to set a good example!
What manners do you wish you had learned earlier as a kid? Do any stand out as being late in your life?
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