To ensure a generation of well-mannered adults, it’s required to teach common courtesies to children. Instructing them in the art of practical etiquette—knowing how and why to behave—provides lifelong benefits that they’ll pass along to their own children.
Turn the Phone Off
Patricia Rossi, author of “Everyday Etiquette,” suggested banning phones and all other electronics from the dinner table. This means no calls, texts, games, or reading. This rule encourages dinnertime conversation, which is another aspect of proper manners. While at home or in the car, children need to respect others by not talking loudly or becoming a distraction. To encourage good manners and provide a good example, parents need to adhere to this rule as well.
Practice Basic Table Manners
Rossi recommended teaching children to put a napkin in their lap when they sit down and to have them use it as needed. Teach them to use a knife to cut food, not a fork. Don’t slurp soup from the spoon. If the food is hot, allow it cool instead of blowing on it. Never talk with a mouth full of food, and pass food around the table instead of across it.
Be a Good Sport
Nobody likes a know-it-all, so teach your children to respect their friends and classmates by being happy when the other child makes the goal, gets the top grades, or simply wants to tell their story. This has the side benefit of teaching them to pay attention to others. People of all ages appreciate someone who actively listens and participates in a conversation. Teach them that it’s good to give the other kids a turn as well.
Be Helpful and On Time
Teamwork isn’t just for sports. Teach your kids to help around the house with chores, such as taking out the trash, helping to load the dishwasher, helping in the garden, and feeding and bathing their pets. Teach them the importance of showing respect for others by being on time for school, as well as for playdates with friends, family meals, and other events. By being respectful, they’ll also earn respect.
Without discounting the importance of teaching your children to be wary of strangers, they do need to learn to be polite to others. Examples include neighbors you might not know by name but see often, the mailman, delivery people, grocery store cashiers, and more. Acknowledging others with a smile and a hearty “hello,” “please,” or “thank you” is often rewarded with a returned smile and could well be the high point of that person’s day.