It’s never too early, or late, to start teaching your kids good manners. If you’ve just started on the leveling-up journey yourself, then it’s a good idea to include them. It might be more fun together, anyway. That’s why in this post, I’m going to outline what I think are the most important manners and etiquette for children. If you have teenagers, you can also have them watch this video.
#1 – Please & Thank You
These are on the top of the list because they’re the easiest to teach and also the ones you can teach even very young children. Basically, as soon as they start speaking, these words should be coming out of their mouths. From what I’ve seen, the simplest way to do that is by modeling this behavior yourself. So, if your child does something for you, you say thank you. And when you ask for something from your child, you use please. Your little one will mirror you in no time.
#2 – How To Greet
This is a tricky one. You’ll want to teach your kids how to greet people politely yet at the same time you want them to learn healthy boundaries. You should never, ever force your kids to hug or kiss someone if they don’t want to. Otherwise, you risk them learning to disregard their boundaries later in life. Shaking hands is, of course, a good idea. Looking into people’s eyes and saying “hello” or “nice to meet you” is also important. But only if they take their cue from an adult, like you, so that they don’t feel obligated to do that with strangers.
#3 – Table Manners
Dinnertime should double as a children etiquette class (and adults that are just starting their journeys as well). Try to have dinner every night together with all the table settings in place. And then you model the right behavior and gently guide your kids when they make mistakes. Again, this will need to be age appropriate. For younger children, you’ll have to stay calm as they make a mess while using cutlery. But if you resist the urge to intervene constantly, they will learn and eventually get better at it.
#4 – Kindness
Being a child is not easy. Their brains are still developing, and they sometimes have overwhelming emotions they are not able to regulate on their own. That’s why they have tantrums and why something as simple as another child touching their toy can trigger huge reactions. Knowing this can help you approach etiquette for children with a lot of patience and compassion. This will also show them how to deal with others. Kindness is not something you can fake with good manners, it’s something you foster, and it comes out in behavior and manners.
What about an etiquette class for children? I’m not against that, but if you do not model the appropriate behavior yourself, those classes will not work. True class and elegance must come from within, not as just some enforced set of rules. Etiquette rules, like these and these, are just an added refinement to an already refined nature.