22 Simple Manners All Kids Should Know

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

Young girl with good manners sitting at dining table

Your child's bad manners aren'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. They might also simply need an etiquette reminder or help managing their impulses.

What's a busy parent to do? Focus on teaching these 22 good manners to your little one—preferably before they turn 9 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it's also important to model this good behavior to your child, who learns by watching everyone around them.

Instilling Good Manners in Kids

When teaching good manners, give clear explantations using age-appropriate language, and offer consistent reminders. Don't forget to mimic the manners in your everyday life too!

Important Manners That Kids Should Know

Proper etiquette doesn't always come instinctually to kids. By instilling these good manners, you'll end up with a thoughtful and polite child who gets recognized for the right reasons!

01 of 22

Say 'Please'

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

02 of 22

Say 'Thank You'

Likewise, when receiving something—whether it's a physical thing or an intangible one, like help or a compliment—your kids should express gratitude by saying "thank you." Again, modeling these good manners will go a long way. When your child picks up their toys, enthusiastically thank them for being a big helper.

03 of 22

Wait Your Turn

Learning to take turns in conversation, without interruption, can be difficult for young children. Develop this skill by explaining why taking turns is important: It allows everyone to be heard equally. Also, kids should understand that sometimes it's OK to interrupt adults, like when there's an emergency. Otherwise, they should wait for a pause in the conversation before interjecting.

04 of 22

Say 'Excuse Me'

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

05 of 22

Ask Permission

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

06 of 22

Don't Remark on Appearance

Kids tend to be masters of blurting out inappropriate comments and observations. They're not trying to be mean; they just haven't developed the social skills to avoid saying what they think. Curb uncomfortable moments by instilling one fundamental rule: Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics.

07 of 22

Reciprocate Greetings

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

08 of 22

Express Gratitude

Teach your kid when to express gratitude to others. For example, after spending time at their friend's house, they should thank their friend and their friends' parents for having them over. They'll be impressed by your child's good manners!

09 of 22

Knock on Closed Doors

Doors are for privacy, so if a door is closed, your child should knock before entering. But it's not enough to knock and barge right in! Rather, the next step is waiting to see if there's a response, then get permission before entering.

10 of 22

Introduce Yourself

Phone etiquette is also important for kids. Teach them to introduce themselves after placing a call, then ask to speak with the person they're trying to reach.

11 of 22

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 enjoy is making a thank-you card (or if they don't prefer artistic expression, sending a thank-you email).

12 of 22

Don't Use Foul Language

Uh oh, has your kid picked up on some colorful language? Don't worry; it happens to the best of us. Teach kids not to use foul or impolite language by cleaning 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.

13 of 22

Don't Call Names

You've probably have heard the adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," but we all know that's not true. Most kids can recall a time when mean names hurt their feelings. Draw on their empathy by explaining their words can also hurt their friends, and they should never call people mean names.

14 of 22

Don't Tease

Just like mean names, teasing can also lead to hurt feelings. Proper etiquette involves not making fun of anyone for any reason. Even though teasing might be done in jest, everyone has different sensitivity levels, and it can be cruel and deeply harm someone. To be a good friend, avoid teasing at all costs.

15 of 22

Say 'Pardon Me'

Sometimes we bump into people. It's fine if accidents happen, but your child should acknowledge their mistake by saying "pardon me."

16 of 22

Don't Spread Germs

Germs can spread through air or touch. When kids understand how to practice good hygiene, they decrease their chances of getting sick and avoid spreading illness to others—and that's a good manner in itself! Teach kids to wash their hands after using the bathroom, cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and avoid picking their nose.

17 of 22

Hold the Door

It's polite to hold the door for other people. The hope is that, whenever your child walks through a door, they'll look around to see if they can hold it open for someone else.

18 of 22

Offer to Help

Let your kids know that it's courteous to help people out, whether it's a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on a project. When they see someone struggling—perhaps a friend whose arms are overloaded with books—they should offer to give them a hand.

19 of 22

Do Tasks Without Grumbling

It's not always easy to do chores when you don't feel like it—even if you're an adult. But negativity can make matters worse, so even when your child feels grumpy about their tasks, they should try their best complete them without grumbling.

20 of 22

Use Eating Utensils Properly

One important table manner for kids is using eating utensils properly. Kids often learn this manner through observation, but sometimes, they have trouble incorporating the skills because they adapted their own way of holding forks and spoons when they didn't have the dexterity for big-kid table manners. It's never a bad idea to share a refresher on the proper etiquette!

21 of 22

Use a Napkin

Another key table manner is keeping a napkin handy on your lap. Your child can use it—instead of their sleeve—to wipe their mouth when necessary.

22 of 22

Pass Dishes at the Table

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, but it also reduces the likelihood of spilling!

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles