Family & Education

Kids and Etiquette: As the World Becomes More Impersonal, Manners Become More Important

BY Bill Lindsey TIMEApril 1, 2022 PRINT

Adults who have good manners and are respectful of others evolved from children who had the fortune of having a caring adult who served as a role model. Return the favor to the next generation.

Teach by Example

How you teach your children is just as important as what you teach them. Teaching by example is a powerful method that lends credibility to your lessons. By being courteous and respectful to friends and strangers alike, you reinforce proper behavior. Children learn by watching how adults treat waiters, answer the phone, react to bad drivers, and so much more, making it especially important to be a good role model.

Don’t Be Rude

While burps and bodily gasses can be hilarious to kids (and many adults), they need to recognize that there’s a time and place when being silly is OK, and other times when it isn’t. Because we all get gassy sometimes, teach them to say “excuse me” when it happens. Asking for permission to leave the dinner table is another etiquette essential, while nose-picking and underwear-adjusting are never appropriate in public.

Thank You Notes

To avoid becoming entitled kids, children need to understand why it’s important to show true appreciation and gratitude for holiday gifts, birthday gifts, and any other gifts. One way to do this is to have them send a handwritten thank you note no later than a day after receiving a gift. Have them consider how they would feel after spending time and money to give a gift, only to receive a half-hearted email or text message or none at all.

The Golden Rule

Children who understand the importance of doing unto others as they would have done to them tend to grow up to be well-adjusted adults. Use real-world experiences: If they weren’t invited to a classmate’s birthday party, help them learn from that the importance of not being petty or rude. If a friend breaks your child’s toy, but promptly apologizes and replaces it, that’s a great example of responsible, mature behavior.

Be Nice 

If “please” and “thank you” lay the foundation for good manners, a genuine “How are you?” or similar query is the framework. Teach your children that while you love them completely and unconditionally, they aren’t the center of the universe, no matter what Grandma says. By showing a genuine interest in friends, family, and others, they learn to be respectful and, in so doing, earn the respect of those around them.

Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.
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