Basic manners for modern kids has been on my mind a lot. I have raised 4 children, 2 nieces and several foster children over the years. I can tell you each and every one of the kids that lived in my home were taught basic manners (and some additional ones too).
One thing people comment on the most with my kids, especially my youngest who is 13, is how polite they are. This didn’t just happen! I not only taught manners, I modeled them. Both modern kids and adults seem to have lost the art of being polite.
Now maybe manners were never a thing YOU were taught so you struggle to know what is appropriate to teach your kids (and teens). I have a basic manners for modern kids list that will help you.
Basic Manners for Modern Kids
Basic Manners for Modern Kids
This lists are my top basic manners that need to still be practiced and taught to kids, teens and sometimes to adults.
- Say please, thank you and you’re welcome. Practice using them in your family, then they’ll be 2nd nature when they are out and about.
- Hold the door open. This is NOT just for boys. If someone is coming in or out at the same time as your kid, encourage them to hold the door.
- Make eye contact!!! For the love of Pete, we need to teach our children to look people in the face and make eye contact during conversation. Frankly, I know a lot of adults that could use this skill to.
- A firm handshake – teach both girls and boys how to greet with a firm handshake. I know “the hug” is really modern and that’s great; but let’s not forget how to greet a stranger.
- Table manners (let’s start eating at a table again). Too many of us are eating in front of the TV or computer these days. How can you teach table manners like that!
- Send a thank you note. Let me be honest, this was something I didn’t do as a younger woman. But there is so much to be said for a handwritten note or card to thank someone. Teach it! Live it! See The Lost Art of Letter Writing.
- Learn how to use the phrase, “excuse me”. Do you need someone’s attention? Do you need to interrupt a conversation? Wait patiently and use the words, “excuse me”. This is also one to use when you bump into someone by accident.
- Knock on closed doors, not just locked ones. I know this seems so obvious but I’m telling you, it isn’t for everyone.
- Ask how you can help. When you are at someone’s house or out and about in life, look for opportunities to offer help and service. For example after a meal at someone’s house, offer to do the dishes!
- Stand to show respect. Not going to go into a huge diatribe here but this is a life skill everyone seems to be lacking these days.
- Show respect to your elders. Most of them have earned it! Now this will vary by culture and even location, so I’ll leave that up to you.
- Addressing people by their names. Ok, first off children should be taught to use Miss / Mrs / Mr followed by last name always when addressing an adult. Not until said adult has asked to be called by a first name or another version should that be used. This is also a form of respect.
What are some basic etiquette kids need?
Etiquette is defined as the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.
My list of basic manners had to include basic etiquette. These are based on the past and current standards in the USA. You can adjust for your country and culture. I’m mainly covering table etiquette which is sorely lacking these days.
- Put your napkin on your lap at the start of a meal.
- Don’t start eating until everyone has their food.
- Keep your crap off the table (purses, keys, cell phones, feet, etc.)
- Chew with your mouth shut.
- Don’t talk with your mouth full.
- On that note, take small bites – if you have to open your mouth unnaturally to take a bite , it is TOO BIG!
- Push your chair in when you leave the table, even if you’re coming back.
- Ask for things to be passed – do not reach over people to grab things on the table.
Basic Social Skills to Teach Your Kids
Social skills are in serious lack, along with manners.
- BE ON TIME! BE ON TIME EVERY TIME. Being late is rude, selfish and self-serving. If you know that YOU have a problem with it, your kids probably will too. Treat other people’s time with respect and arrive a little early.
- Foul language and curse words are not appropriate in public and that includes social media. Look I’m not trying to be preachy or a prude but you need to think about how that is perceived by others and younger children.
- Not looking at your phone, computer, tablet, smart watch, etc when someone is talking to you.
- Teach your kids stranger danger but also teach them to have a decent conversation with safe adults. Most kids mumble, don’t make eye contact and do not participate in a volley of conversation with adults (see above).
- Don’t interrupt.
- Be an active listener – meaning give verbal or physical cues that you are actually listening.
- Learn to “fight fair”. No I am not talking about fist fighting here. I mean that today most people think having a verbal debate is equal to hatred. We need to teach our kids to have debates or even heated conversations without making it or taking it personally.
- It is OK not to want to hug someone. Ok this one isn’t basic but I feel I need to include it. I see WAY too many parents forcing physical affection on their kids with distant relatives, friends, even close family members. If your kid doesn’t want to hug or kiss someone, it is ok. Teach them to be secure in saying NO to unwanted physical touch. Your family and friends will get over it when a firm handshake, eye contact and verbal acknowledgement is there.
Ok I think I’ve probably given you enough of, what I consider, basic manners for kids (teens and adults too). I hope you’re already doing this and it won’t be too overwhelming.
Do you think I missed anything? Let me know if the comments!