My husband grew up in a military family so good manners was a really big deal and he has beautiful manners. He’s not from the South, but he’s even got the Sir/Ma’am thing down. Manners are so important to him, or rather, bad manners are so offensive to him, that I refer to him as the Manners Nazi.
I, on the other hand, was raised by parents a generation older than my peer’s parents. My husband thinks I was raised by wolves. Naturally, responsibility for teaching our kids manners is all him. After he stayed home with our first, the outcome was so positive that I tried to emulate what he did. And, as our children have ventured off on independent playdates, sleepovers, and dinners at other people’s houses, it was clear to us how important instilling manners at a VERY YOUNG age is. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
We, as parents, notice when play dates come over and 1) say “please,” “thank you” and “no, thank you”, 2) clear their dishes without being asked, and 3) make eye contact. We also notice when play dates come over and 1) touch all the food on the communal platter before selecting their choice, 2) leave their dishes at the table, 3) forget the “thank you” part of “no”. We really want the first group hanging out at our house! Wouldn’t you too?!
But, how do good manners happen? What parenting did or did not happen in group two? I’m not sure, but here’s what worked for us:
From birth until your last dying breath (although by 4-5 years old seems to penetrate the inner recesses of their brains)
From age 3-5, teach your children to:
Honestly, good manners is a simple as a consistent, “please,” “thank you” and “no, thank you”. Aren’t these the first words we learn when we arrive in a foreign country? Even before, “Where is the bathroom?” It makes the world a nicer place and lubricates social interactions. But the key is early education and consistency.
Thank you for reading! What other things are working for you in the manners department? Please share!
P.S. One unfortunate outcome of this training is that you will find that you will be unable to stop correcting anyone who fails to say, “please,” “thank you” and “no, thank you.” You will correct your child’s play date friends. You will correct your spouse. You will correct complete strangers. You have become…a Manners Nazi.
Here are some fun books about manners.
This sweet board book teaches good table manners including washing hands, saying “thank you” and “please,” trying one bite of everything on your plate, and clearing your plate. It’s a nice way to reinforce what you are saying. [board book, ages 2 and up]
I will be giving this book away. Please leave a comment with a manners tip that you do with your child to win.
Great advice from D.W., Arthur’s little sister, on how to be perfect for one day! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
This etiquette book is perfect for tweens. It’s funny and covers all the basics. [nonfiction middle grade, ages 10 and up]
Great advice and you can also make a game of it in her other book!
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.