Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind when minding your children:
1. Please and Thank You
“Please” and “Thank You” are still the magic words they’ve always been, and you will be doing your child a favor if you insist that she use them until they become a habit. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and “Thank You” is the accepted way of showing appreciation. “Please” can turn a demand into a request and indicates an option—it can turn an unpopular request into a more palatable one.
Teach your children, as soon as they are old enough to understand, to greet people by name. Learning early on to look someone in the eye and say “Hello Mr. Kelly”—instead of “Hi” mumbled at the ground—is a valuable lesson for the future.
3. Table Manners
Table manners for children should be the same as they are for adults, with one exception: young children should be permitted to be excused from the table, if the meal is an extended one. Expecting a young child to sit quietly through a protracted meal when his food is gone is an unreasonable demand on his patience and ability to sit still without wiggling, fiddling, and noisemaking to help pass the time.
In order to teach your children to respect your privacy, you must respect theirs.
- Don’t try to involve yourself in their conversations
- Don’t listen in on their telephone conversations
- Don’t go through their belongings
- Don’t pry
- Knock and wait for a “come in” before entering their room
Teach your children not to interrupt. This is part of learning to respect other people’s rights. It is up to you to teach your child to wait for a break in the conversation to speak. The mother who invariably stops and says, “What is it, dear?” when her daughter interrupts is helping her to establish a habit that will do her a disservice all her life.
6. Thank You Notes
It is not necessary to write a thank you note, when a gift is opened and the donor is thanked personally at the time of opening. If the gifts are not opened in front of the donors, the child must write a personal note mentioning the gift by name to each donor.
7. Fair Play
Fair play among children is really just good sportsmanship and respect for others. It includes the practice of kindness, taking turns and sharing. One of the best ways to teach fair play is by example. Parents who take turns, treat their children with kindness and share with others will be teaching their children fair play, just by their actions.
8. Shaking Hands
Teaching your child to shake hands is a good way to get them used to greeting people appropriately. Practice with them. Show your child how to shake hands and exchange greetings by looking you in the eye and greeting you by name.
9. Telephone Manners
A child’s first experience with the phone will be saying “Hi” to a relative or close friend. Good phone manners that children will learn over time include speaking clearly, identifying themselves, taking messages, and not dominating phone use.
10. Out and About
Children need to learn that good manners are used everywhere, not just at their grandparents. Table manners, please and thank you, polite greetings, and respectful conversation are called for at home, at friends’ homes, in restaurants, at school, and even in the mall. If children learn to make good manners a habit at home, they will use them everywhere.