You’ve had a long, exciting day. You and your child are taking the train home from the natural history museum. You are sitting beside him, and you’re both exhausted. An elderly woman gets onto the train, but there is no seat left for her. You hurriedly arise and offer her your seat. Your son just witnessed you bestowing an act of kindness and respect upon a fellow human being. This was a lesson in decorum – in good manners. We aren’t born possessing them. Good manners are learned. We often forget, when we are tired, ill or in a hurry, even sometimes just being ourselves, that our kids are watching every single move we make and taking in every word that comes out of our mouths. Whatever they see you do now is what they are likely to do as adults. It becomes ingrained into them. Also, if they don’t learn good manners as children, they likely won’t display them as adults. Good manners are defined as a socially correct way of showing respect for other people’s feelings. Let’s look at some contrasting manners for kids.

Mealtime Manners

Bad Manners for Kids

When children are allowed to run wild in a restaurant, screaming, crying on and on, making terrible messes, and running around unattended, not only can it ruin the other patrons’ dining experience, but it can also be dangerous for them and everyone else if the server is carrying piping hot food.

The same goes if you are a guest at someone’s home or anywhere else. Children have parents for a good reason – to teach them.

Good Manners for Kids

  • Wash your hands before you eat. 
  • Chew with your mouth closed.
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full.
  • Never complain about the food you’ve been served.
  • Don’t reach over others, but ask that food be passed to you
  • Keep your elbows off the table.
  • Don’t slurp or smack your lips while eating.
  • Wipe your mouth with your napkin.
  • Don’t take bites that are too large.
  • Don’t take more than you can eat.
  • Excuse yourself from the table by saying excuse me.
  • Clear your plate from the table.

Note: What kids can get away with in the home dining room, they will likely do that or worse in a public setting. Manners start at home.

Anytime Manners

Bad Manners for Kids

  • Is there anything worse than trying to carry on a conversation while kids are interrupting constantly? It’s rude. 
  • Kids that talk too loudly, scream, yell and cry incessantly in a public setting annoy others. It’s disconcerting.
  • Making a mess and then leaving it for someone else to clean up is thoughtless and disrespectful.
  • Kids worming around in a chair or running around in church or a store is irreverent, distracting and inconsiderate.
  • Mocking anyone for any reason, especially those who are disabled or handicapped, is not a good habit. It may be hurtful, and it’s impolite.
  • No one should really use foul language, but especially kids. It makes those who use it look uneducated.

Good Manners for Kids

  • Use “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry” appropriately.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the crook of your arm when coughing or sneezing, not your hand, because then your hand will be dirty.
  • Look people in the eye when you speak to them.
  • Give a firm, sincere handshake when appropriate.
  • Wait your turn. Don’t interrupt conversations or jump ahead in line.
  • Don’t embarrass others.
  • Put down your electronics when someone enters the room.
  • Knock on a closed door and wait for a response before opening.
  • Hold the door open for whomever is coming in or going out next.
  • Be on time.
  • Respect people’s personal space.

Parents must take the time to be diligent. Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, conducted a study examining the habits of 96 people for 12 weeks. The study showed it takes an average of 66 days doing the same thing for something new to become a habit. Be diligent!

Not every bad parent has a bad-mannered child and not every good parent a good-mannered child. You do the best you can. The key to good behavior in children is to, firstly, set a good example. Secondly, don’t apologize for them. Explain to them why bad behavior must change. Lastly, let them know you expect more from them. What they know you truly expect is what you’ll usually get.

Here at Early Childhood University, we understand the importance of teaching young kids good manners, which is why we are here to guide and teach them the socially acceptable way of dealing with others.Please feel free to give us a call for more information.