Why it’s Important to Teach your Children Good Manners

Little girl with good manners helping her sister put a bicycle helmet on.

Are Manners Outdated?

You’ve probably heard older people lament the manners of modern children, and to an extent, the expectations have changed. Modern kids have more autonomy than prior generations, and as our society has shifted to a place of less civility, adults in the public eye often provide a poor example for children to follow. However, this doesn’t mean that manners are obsolete. A vintage manners book for children summed it up succinctly: “Good manners make a person nice to know.” As parents, we have a responsibility to raise people who are nice to know, and that means teaching manners.

How Learning Manners Benefits Your Children

When children learn to be mannerly, they’re really learning respect for others. People appreciate someone who is thoughtful and appreciative, respectful and grateful, and treating others with respect is universally recognized as good behavior. When your children are polite, people will remember them in a positive light, whether in school, on teams, or out and about. Instilling polite habits at an early age will help your children throughout their lives, opening up opportunities for them and helping them to succeed.

Manners that Matter

The definition of manners varies, but there are some standard practices that are always accepted as mannerly.

  • It starts with please and thank you. From earliest childhood, teach your child these simple expressions of polite behavior. Other, related phrases, including “how are you”, “you’re welcome” and “may I” are also important for children to learn. Get them into the habit of
  • Teach children to greet others respectfully. Though handshaking has fallen out of fashion post-pandemic, it’s still important to greet people properly. Even shy children can be taught to look others in the eye and say hello. Practice this skill by demonstrating the right way to greet someone and role playing with your child. Encourage children to call adults Mr. and Ms., because using a title and a last name is the most respectful way to address someone. Teach kids to wait their turn before speaking, and to say “excuse me” rather than interrupting a conversation.
  • Prioritize human interaction over screens. Children are becoming focused on screens at younger and younger ages. Model polite behavior, practicing good cell phone etiquette and putting the phone away at the table and when interacting with others. In public, teach children to notice other people, holding the door for someone carrying groceries or offering help to someone who needs it. This doesn’t just equate to good manners, but it demonstrates empathy.
  • Instill good sportsmanship and gracious behavior. Teach your children to be a good sport, win or lose, and you will be imparting a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives. Teach good playdate manners, too, reminding kids to follow the rules at other people’s houses and use their inside voices. Teaching your children the importance of gracious behavior will help them to be people who are always welcome wherever they want to be.
  • Teach kids to write thoughtful notes. Thank you notes are a good place to start, but it’s also smart to teach children to wrote polite texts and emails. Explain the basics, like how to right in a clear tone, and as your kids get older, teach them to be polite on social media, never posting rude comments.
  • Practice talking on the phone. Home phones are few and far between, but children need to learn the skill of phone etiquette. Use play phones to demonstrate how to have a polite conversation, and get your child in the habit of talking to relatives and friends when he or she is old enough to do so clearly and politely.
  • Work on table manners. Have dinner as a family, and practice good table manners. Teach kids to wait until everyone is seated and served to begin eating, demonstrate how to properly use a napkin and silverware, and work on etiquette together. This will instill confidence in your child, and you can be sure that your child will behave well even when you are not at the table. Practice conversing at the dinner table, too, and you will help kids learn how to have a conversation.
  • Limit media consumption. Watch television or go online, and you are sure to see incivility and downright rudeness. Limit your children’s exposure to this, and you will also be improving their lives in general; research indicates that less screen time means better health, grades, and behavior.
  • Model acts of service. Kindness is at the heart of polite behavior. Little acts of kindness, like holding a door or giving up your seat on a bus, can go a long way. Take it a step further, and perform acts of service as a family, participating in park cleanups or city-wide service days.

Teaching Manners

Now that we’ve established the importance of manners, and which manners are important to teach, how should you go about teaching them to your children? Being too strict is unlikely to be effective, and the same goes for threats and punishments. Modeling desired behavior has a stronger impact, and positive reinforcement can help make manners stick. Role play situations that may test your child’s manners, explaining why manners are important, and encouraging polite kindness to other people. Keep your expectations in check while your child is young and still learning.

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Good manners help your children grow into well-rounded, good mannered people, and kindness and respect are two of the core values of happy families. At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow happy families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.