22 Simple Manners All Kids Should Know

Need an etiquette refresher? Helping your child master this list of good manners will get them noticed—for all the right reasons.

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baby pouting
sarahnoda/shutterstock.com

Your child's impoliteness isn't always intentional. Sometimes kids don't realize it's impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe something about a stranger's appearance. Other times, they just need a reminder or help managing their impulses.

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be hard to focus on teaching kids proper etiquette. But if you reinforce these must-do manners, you'll raise a thoughtful and polite child.

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Say 'Please'

Please
Shannon Greer

Teach your child that when asking for something, it's polite to say "please." You can model this behavior by saying "please" when you make a request of your child. For example, "Please pick up your toys before turning on the TV."

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Say 'Thank You'

Thank You
Shannon Greer

Likewise, when receiving something whether it's a physical thing or an intangible one like help or a compliment, help your kids learn to express gratitude by saying "thank you." Again, modeling this behavior goes a long way. For example, when your child picks up their toys, enthusiastically thank them for being a big helper.

04 of 26

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Wait Your Turn

mothers and daughters
Image Source/ Veer

Learning to take turns in conversation and not interrupt is difficult for young children. You can help them develop this skill by explaining why taking turns talking is important: It allows everyone a chance to be heard and shows others their words are important.

Also, help kids understand that sometimes it's OK to interrupt adults, like when there is an emergency. Otherwise, explain that they should wait for a pause in the conversation before interjecting.

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Say 'Excuse Me'

mother and daughter
Image Source/ Veer

Sometimes, your child will need to interrupt you. For example, maybe they have a bathroom emergency, or their sibling fell and got hurt. In these cases, you can teach your child that the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way to enter the conversation.

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Ask Permission

mother talking to child
Image Source/ Veer

Teach your child to ask permission first when they have any doubt about doing something. You may also have standing rules about things that require permission, like answering the door, downloading an app, or making a purchase. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

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Don't Remark on Appearance

two year old

Kids tend to be masters of blurting out inappropriate comments and observations. It's not that they're mean; they just haven't developed the social skills to avoid saying everything they think. However, you can help your child with a fundamental rule—do not comment on other people's physical characteristics.

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Reciprocate

mother and child in kitchen
Reed Davis

Explain to your child how customary greetings work. For example, when someone asks you how you are, you reply by telling them and then reciprocate by asking them how they are.

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Express Gratitude

girl holding her bear and sleeping bag

Teach your child that if they've had a good time at someone else's house, saying thank you to the host is appropriate. For example, if they've spent time at their friend's house, remind them to thank their friend and their friends' parents for having them over.

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Knock on Closed Doors

toddler hiding behind door
Dreamstime

Teach your child that doors are for privacy; so if a door is closed, they should knock before entering. But, it's not enough to knock and barge in! Instead, tell them the next step is to wait to see if there's a response, then get permission before entering.

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Introduce Yourself

When they make a phone call, kids need to know how to start the conversation. So, teach them to introduce themselves first and then ask if they can speak with the person they are calling.

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Send Thank-You Cards

If your child receives a gift, tell them it's important to be appreciative and say "thank you." A lost art that younger kids might be into is making a thank-you card. You can even turn it into a craft experience and make it fun. Or if they aren't into that, consider helping them with a thank-you email.

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Don't Use Foul Language

funny things kids say
Robyn Lehr

Uh oh, has your kid picked up on some colorful language? Don't worry; it happens to the best of us. The best way to teach kids not to use foul or impolite language is to clean up your own words. From there, explain that everyone tolerates cuss words differently, so to be respectful, it's best not to use them in public.

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Don't Call Names

saying something
Alexandra Grablewski

You (and your child) may have heard the adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me," but we all know that's not true. Most kids can recall a time a mean name hurt their feelings. So draw on their empathy and tell them their words can also hurt their friends and that they should never call people mean names.

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Don't Tease

friends hugging
Christa Renee

Similar to avoiding mean names, tell your kids that teasing someone can lead to hurt feelings. A good rule is not to make fun of anyone for any reason. Even though teasing might be done in jest, everyone is different and has different sensitivity levels. In the end, teasing can be cruel and deeply harm someone. To be a good friend, avoid teasing at all costs.

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Say 'Pardon Me'

father and son on walk
Fancy Photography/Veer

Sometimes we bump into people. Teach your child that accidents happen and it's OK, but if you do bump into someone, it's polite to acknowledge your mistake by saying "pardon me."

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Don't Spread Germs

child picking nose
Alexandra Grablewski

Kids need to understand how germs are spread—through the air and by touch. When kids understand how to practice good hygiene, they decrease their chances of getting sick and avoid spreading illness to others.

So, teach them to wash their hands after using the bathroom, cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and to not pick their nose. Instead, show kids how to use a tissue or ask for help if they're too young to do it themselves.

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Hold the Door

child opening door
Frank Heckers

Often, especially in public, you may come upon a door along with other people. Teach your child that it's polite to hold the door for people around you when this happens. So, as they walk through a door, tell them to look to see if they can hold it open for someone else.

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Offer to Help

boy washing car
Jill Chen/ istock

Let your kids know that it's courteous to help people out. So, if they come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, tell them to ask if they can help. The cool thing is, they may learn something new! Likewise, if they see someone struggling—perhaps a friend's arms are overloaded with books—offer to give them a hand.

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Do Tasks Without Grumbling

folding laundry
Fancy Photography/ Veer

It's not always easy to do chores when you don't feel like it—even when you're an adult. But, as mentioned earlier, negativity can make matters worse. So, teach your child that even when they feel grumpy about their tasks, to try their best to do it without grumbling.

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Use Eating Utensils Properly

One important table manner for kids to learn is how to use eating utensils properly. These are generally behaviors kids learn from observing. But sometimes, kids have trouble incorporating these skills because they adapted their own way of holding forks and spoons when they didn't have the dexterity for big-kid table manners. So, once your kid is old enough, teach them how to hold their utensils and where to place them when they are done.

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Use a Napkin

child at dinner table
Werner Straube

Another key table manner is keeping a napkin handy on your lap. Teach your child to use it—not a sleeve—to wipe their mouth when necessary.

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Pass Dishes at the Table

thanksgiving
Fancy Photography/ Veer

One last essential table manner to teach: Don't reach for things at the table. Instead, ask to have them passed. Passing dishes not only limits bumping elbows and getting in front of someone but also reduces the likelihood of spilling!

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