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Teaching children manners

March 28th, 2009

According to a survey by, teaching children manners is “back in Vogue.”


The top reason, the survey found, moms say that the world has become a more “freewheeling” place and they want to give their children tools to guide them.

The number two reason that moms give for teaching children manners is witnessing bad behavior in other children.

The third reason is a desire to set their children up for success in an increasingly competitive world. “Without manners, kids are set up for failure in other aspects of life,” said one mom.  Said another, “Good manners pave the way for other good things in life.”

Having good manners is akin to having good people skills. You need them in any profession and in any situation.

While it’s a good thing to teach our children manners, I caution against expecting children to act like adults. You cannot expect kids to sit quietly at a 2-hour formal dinner. Kids will fidget, they will talk, they will be curious, and they will most likely get into trouble.

I recently went to an event with dinner and a speaker on the topic of parenting. Kids were there with their parents and some of them were running around as normal children would. The MC started the evening saying, “You children are welcome here. We love children, you are our future.”

I thought that was a great introduction. It alleviated the anxiety of the parents trying to make their children behave like adults. It was also sent a message to the audience to be patient with the children’s behavior.

Normal childish behavior is not “bad manners.” But if you put children in an adult situation, adults will be annoyed by their antics and consider them “bad.” You should avoid social situations that have unrealistic expectations of children.

You should, however, expect good manners that is appropriate for the age of the child.

What are some of those manners that we should teach our kids?  The article in tells which manners are most important to the moms who were surveyed.

Here I give my own top 3 manners I hope my kids learned:

1. Say hello to people, and greet them by name. “Hi, Mr. Smith.”  When children get older, they can learn to hold out their hand to shake hands with adults. I was very impressed when my son’s friend in 9th grade shook my hand when he met me for the first time.

2. Don’t run when they are indoors. “Don’t run inside the house!” “Don’t run down the hallway!” “Don’t run in the museum!” Kids often need to be reminded that they need to behave differently inside than outside. They can still move, just don’t run.

3.  Have proper table manners. I posted about 7 basic table manners our children should have. Since so many social as well as business events center around eating, practicing common table manners will serve our children well.

What manners do you think are important for our children to learn?

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