In 2018, teaching etiquette is still important!  In fact, in today’s society where adults and children are often interacting with technology, it’s crucial to teach children about proper greetings, eye contact, saying please and thank you, and other socialization skills.  As children learn to value themselves and others through treating people with kindness and respect, it helps them develop friendships and grow in self-confidence.

When to Start Teaching Manners

Parents and caregivers can create a foundation for explicitly teaching manners by first modeling them. Children learn through observation, and as you model saying please and thank you when interacting with your spouse and child she will implicitly learn manners from you. For example, if your child says, “Milk,” you can respond and say, “Mommy, may I have some milk please?”  Before a baby is able to speak have monologues and speak to your child.  In her blog Living Montessori Now  Deb Chitwood says she would have monologues with her grandchild:  “Grandma, may I please have some sweet potato?” “Thank you, Grandma.” “You’re welcome, Zoey.”  This type of modeling will help children implicitly learn manners.

Teaching children to say thank you is not only valuable because it’s good manners, but it also fosters the development of and practice of gratitude.  As a parent, when children complete their chores, for example, demonstrate appreciation by specifically verbalizing what they did and why you valued it.  Manners is more than just using the right words, it’s also about developing empathy for others and valuing their contributions.

Role Play and Teaching Boundaries

A valuable tool for teaching children as young as two years old how to communicate their needs, includes role playing and providing tools for expressing boundaries.  For example, it’s helpful for children to know what to do in situations when someone is in their personal space, touching them, pulling their clothes, or violating a personal boundary. Practice role playing with your toddler and offer helpful scripts to communicate their needs.  You can teach a child to say “Will you give me some space please?” if someone is too close to him or in their personal bubble.  Teach children that their body is theirs and they have the power to give consent and decide what to do with their body.  They can decide to consent if they want a hug, for example, and say no if they do not want to.

Learning to Share

Waiting your turn and sharing is one of the hardest skills for toddlers to learn.  One of the best ways to provide waiting time and promote sharing is through playing board games.  Games naturally allow children waiting time that isn’t too long.  Matching games are a great tool for teaching this skill.  Children know eventually it will be their turn again after their friends have a turn.

Cell Phone etiquette: 

Adults need work on this one too!  Technology can make us distracted and self-absorbed.

Teach your children modern tech etiquette by modeling it yourself.  When at meals put your phone on silent and don’t check it during meals.  The same applies when having a conversation with someone.  Don’t check your phone and text.  If you absolutely must respond to a text or call, ask the person politely, “Do you mind if I answer this call?”  Teaching these simple steps will benefit us all.

For some helpful books on manners check out the list below!

Books about Manners:

  • Llama Llama Time To Share by Anna Dewdney
  • The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners by Stan Berenstain