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Why I’m a total stickler for teaching kids good manners

Categories: Parenting & Family


My daughter is a really good kid. Of course we all think our kids are good kids but there is a general consensus amongs friends and family that she is well-behaved, nice, and all-around not a lot of trouble. I dig that. But there is one thing that I’ve been pestering her about endlessly, especially as we’re in the midst of the holiday season: Saying thank you and please more often.

We’ve had lots of presents giving and lots of meals with friends and family, all of which made me realize that my daughter doesn’t remember her manners as often as I think she should. She is 7 and to be honest, I think most of the time when she doesn’t say thank you after finishing a meal or getting a present it’s because she is off to the next thing or she is excited to play with the new thing she just got. When I remind her to say thank you or to use please when she is asking anyone for anything — including family, friends or strangers — she is quick to do it.

But I think she is old enough to remember to be more polite on her own and these days I’m sounding like a broken record telling her why I think it’s important. I’m a stickler for good manners, I’ll admit it. I pay attention to manners when I’m meeting new people — socially or for work — and I’m quick to judge if someone lacks them. Like having good grammar (another pet peeve of mine, but that’s for another day) I think good manners are one of those core things we should all have. They help us be more civil, more human, more socially happy with each other. They are not hard to learn and or practice. And there is absolutely no downside to being polite.

I’ll make an over-generalization and say that I think a lot of kids could use a manners upgrade. When our daughter has a playdate with someone and they are polite, I notice it because it’s not something that I see all the time. But maybe my expectations are too high.

Do you make a big deal out of teaching your kids to be polite and have good manners?

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5 comments so far...

  • Heck yes. Manners are the beginnings of respect. right from the first time I hand them something I teach ta, and onwards, thankyou, please, excuse me. All of these things are vitally important to our ability to not only get on with each other but also to develop a conscience, a respect for ourselves and a sense of gratitude for what we have no matter how great or small.
    Have you ever noticed how much it means to someone behind a counter when you say thankyou and actually mean it?
    Respect starts at home.
    In fact I’ll go one further than that.
    In my home, if you don’t say please or thankyou, you get nothing, not only my own kids but other people’s and when I have adults who don’t use manners in my home I remind them, same rules, you don’t get a coffee, a cookie, a slice of cake until you say please and thankyou.
    and I make good cake ;-D

    Kate H  |  December 27th, 2011 at 11:04 pm

  • I work on it at every opportunity, but it seems to be a habit that doesn’t come easily, at least for young kids. I firmly believe that as long as I demonstrate good manners myself, my kids will grow into them. I already catch them spontaneously using them, albeit not consistently. I don’t think this is something to lose sleep over until they are a bit older (they are 4/5). If they forget and I can’t subtly remind them, I’ll say the pleasantry on their behalf and move on. (I’m pretty sure it’s not good manners to point out their lack of good manners in front of others.)

    SKL  |  December 28th, 2011 at 12:03 am

  • Lovely post about family.Thanks Nataly.

    Pink Salt  |  December 28th, 2011 at 1:50 am

  • Great post! I’m very much a stickler for good manners (and grammar). We have three children all three and under, so our 3yo is just now to the point where he will occasionally, remember to say ‘Mommy, may I please have a drink’ before saying ‘I need a drink!’ And a weird one… my kids say please, thank you, and excuse me (for bodily functions). Now we’re working on ‘you’re welcome’ and ‘excuse me (get outta my way).’ Any tips on that?

    My husband does remind my 3yo to thank everyone for his gifts, and I think that’s annoying and defeats the purpose, but not something I’m willing to make a big deal. He still needs reminded a little.

    Kara  |  December 29th, 2011 at 9:44 am

  • I do….My 9 year old son is not a good greeter when visitors come to our house. I always remind him that when someone says hello he needs to reply back, it’s part of being polite and acknowledging others. I am a good example, except at work, sometimes I feel if I greet my co-workers it’s like I’m disrupting them. Or enthusiasm about being at work is not taken well, this puzzles me. I have worked overseas and people seem happier to see each other everyday than here in the US. What causes this attitude?

    Mara  |  January 17th, 2012 at 10:07 am