Teaching Your Kids Good Manners

Teaching your children good manners doesnt happen overnight. It takes practice and consistency. Mighty Mommy has 6 practical tips for parents to model polite behavior. 

Cheryl Butler
2-minute read

Teaching Your Kids Good Manners

If you think establishing good manners in your children is near impossible due to all the outside influences they encounter, think again. It’s possible and doable, but it requires quite a bit of diligence and consistency on your part.  

Good manners will never go out of style, so here are 6 tips on how to instill these important traits in your children:

  1. Model appropriate manners consistently.  Children learn from observing your actions, often while you’re not even aware that they’re doing so.  How you behave while stuck in a long line at the check-out counter, or when running into a neighbor that you aren’t particularly fond of, can lay a positive or negative foundation in your children.  Take the high road and model control and politeness, not frustration and pettiness.

  2. Role play and practice at home.  At the dinner table, while speaking to adults who are in conversation, answering the telephone appropriately—these are all wonderful scenarios for you and your children to practice good manners.  For example, if your child doesn’t know how to politely interrupt you and your friend while you’re speaking, make it a teaching moment and explain in a positive way how he can nicely get your attention.

  3. Teach polite words.  “Please” and “thank you” are the magic words, and when your kids observe you using them at any given opportunity, they are sure to follow suit.  Other phrases you don’t want to forget are “May I,” “Excuse me,” “No, thank you,” and “You’re Welcome.”

  4. Correct your child in the moment.  Young children often don't realize what they’re doing, especially in the heat of the moment. For example, if your child calls an adult by his or her first name, take the time to correct him or her. Make sure you react sensitively in these types of situations so you don’t embarrass your child.  If you have an overly sensitive child, you might want to excuse yourself and speak with him or her privately.

  5. Teach greetings and introductions.  It can be socially awkward if your children don’t know how to interact with adults in public. Teach them at a very young age how to behave when they meet someone for the first time. For example, your son should know how to say "My name is Connor, it’s really nice to meet you." You can also teach him to offer his hand in a handshake.  He should be just as careful on the telephone. A polite greeting for the phone might be, "Hello, this is the Butler family, Connor speaking." 

  6. Give your kids positive reinforcement. Children love praise; especially when it comes from a parent or loved one. Very often parents respond only to their children's undesirable behavior, ignoring their victories and positive actions completely. When you observe them using good manners, make a point of letting them know that you are noticing their efforts.

For more of Mighty Mommy’s tips on practical parenting, go to mightymommy,quickanddirtytips.com.  



All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.