One of the greatest compliments anyone can pay me is to say how well-mannered my daughters are. It’s true, they are both very respectful and have very gracious manners, but they didn’t learn their manners on their own, and I’ve been teaching them since they were small. Nowadays, a so many parents aren’t teaching their children manners, but it’s so important! Here are 8 basic manners, and how to teach them to your children.
1. The Magic Words
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To pull a bunny out of a hat, the magic words are “abra-cadabra,” but for everything else you want, the magic words are “please,” and then “thank you.” These are manners you can start teaching your kids when they’re only a year old… these magic words can be used everywhere, all the time. From the fast food counter to the roller skating rink to family functions to the classroom, these manners mean so much!
2. Illness Etiquette
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We were all taught to cover our coughs and sneezes however we could, with a tissue or our hands… but now science encourages us to sneeze and cough into ur elbows, to help prevent spreading germs. These are excellent manners to teach our children, and they’re easy to teach, too!
3. Cards and Letters
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I this age of Internet cards and messages, it may seem silly to teach your children to send thank-you cards after they’ve received gifts, or to send actual paper cards to friends and relatives for their birthdays and such. But these small niceties haven’t gone out of style, and are still important!
4. Music Manners
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Okay, this one is simple. Kids should NOT be allowed to just tune out the world (and their social obligations) by putting on a pair of headphones and blaring their iPod. This is terribly annoying to those around them, especially when someone has something to say to them. Ban headphones from the living room and dining rooms, and save them for private time, or in the car on road trips.
5. Table Manners
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I can’t count how many times I’ve had a dinner out ruined by an unruly, disruptive child at a nearby table. They’re obnoxious, throwing food, yelling, climbing all over the place, asking other tables for things. Teaching good table manners isn’t difficult, and you can start as soon as your child is old enough to sit up straight in a high chair at the family table. Don’t be that wretched couple in the restaurant with the naughty munchkin making all of the other diners scowl!
6. No Staring or Pointing
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By the time we’re teens, most of us have caught on that it’s rude to point at someone, or to stare at them, but this isn’t something we need to wait to teach our children. You can start this as soon as they’re old enough to interact with people, at home or in public. If they encounter a person that makes them curious, say a person in a wheelchair, answer their questions honestly (“She’s in a wheelchair because she isn’t able to walk very well sometimes.”) and move on.
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“Graciousness” can cover so many other important qualities that add up to good manners, like grace under pressure, controlling your temper, sharing (this one is so hard for little kids!), and forgiving someone when they’re made you angry. These are all important things to teach our children, and this is done by example. If they see you acting graciously, they’ll follow suit. Except for the sharing… that one takes a lot of work with little ones!
8. Telephone Manners
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Does anyone under the age of ten know how to answer the phone, or how to even make a phone call? With the pervasiveness of cell phones, even the littlest kids have them, but so many of them have no idea how to talk, politely, on the phone. When they answer the phone, they should say “hello.” When they make a phone call, they need to say hello, then identify themselves and who they’re calling for. If they’re a little older, then they need to know what’s appropriate to leave as an outgoing voicemail message, and what to leave on someone else’s voicemail if their friend doesn’t answer.
Those are just a few of the many manners it’s important that we teach our children, so they’re not embarrassed by their behavior, and so we aren’t either! Which of these manners have your little ones mastered? And what else would you add to this list?
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