Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Top 12 manners every child should know:

Teach your child these top 12 manners to help them show respect to the world and others around them.
By Kirsten Anthony
Date: October 02 2014
Tags: manners,
Editor Rating:

Children generally say exactly what they’re thinking. In many ways, it’s an endearing quality and can be refreshing but sometimes – unintentionally – they can hurt someone else or appear rude.

Often when you hear a child interrupt, or comment on an adult being “fat” or pick their nose in public, they don’t realise it’s not polite to do so. Parents are so busy with so many other things in life, that they also don’t have the time to focus on the finer points of etiquette.

This doesn’t mean you want to bring up kids who never say what they think, but to know the difference between when it’s right or wrong to say something out loud.

To get you on your way, here are the top 12 ‘must-have’ manners to help you raise a polite, kind, well-liked young person.

1.  Say “please”

When asking for something, add “please” to the end of it.

Have a listen to how many adults don’t say it in just an ordinary situation. For example, if you’re a barista and a customer says “Latte with one” compared with a “Latte with one please” – which request is going to make you feel more kindly disposed towards the asker?

It’s one small word which makes a big difference.

2.  Say “thank you”

And here’s two small words that make a big difference.

When you receive something, say “thank you”.

The barista hands you your take-away latte with one. What do you say? “Thank you. See you tomorrow.” He or she will look forward to it – and remember your order too!

3.  Do not interrupt

Best not to let your child watch the average television interview for this one, as most of them interrupt!

But the best way to behave is: do not interrupt a grown-up who is speaking unless there is an emergency. Grown-ups do notice children who want to speak and they will respond when they’ve finished talking.

4.  Two more useful words

If a child does want attention straight away, teach them to say “Excuse me.”

5.  If in doubt, ask

If a child is not sure whether they can do something, make sure they know to ask first.

Years ago, my younger brother thought a video he saw in the video cupboard was old and could be taped over for his Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles shows. Wrong. It was my dad’s top 50 goals of the football (soccer) season and he was gutted when they were gone. If my brother had asked, he would have known, been given another video to use and saved himself grief.

6.  Don’t whinge

Teach your child to keep their gripes and their negative opinions to those closest to them. By all means, complain to you but don’t be out in public sounding like a whinger at a young age.

7.  Don’t comment on how people look – unless it’s positive

Yes, some people are overweight - and are generally very self-conscious about it. Some are in a wheelchair. Some have a physical disability. Some are a different colour. And some wear different clothes. 

Other people can see this too, so there isn’t a need to comment on it.

But it is okay to say: “Grandma, I love that yellow dress on you. It makes you look sunny.”

8.  Ask back

When someone asks you how you are, tell them; but also ask them back too.

I have a friend who never asks his friends how they are. We’re not sure whether this is because he is a doctor and he just gets tired of the answer to that question or whether he isn’t interested. We give him the benefit of the doubt … for now. But it is really noticeable. 

9.  Thank parents

Just been on a play date? Or attended a birthday party? Make sure your child goes to at least one of the parents of the host child and thanks them for the invitation and what a good time it was.

10.  Knock!

My same younger brother went through a phase of not knocking on doors when my eldest sister was in her teens and I was about 10 or 11. My mother had to sit him down and explain he had to knock on the door and then wait until he was told he could enter, regardless of whether he had just seen someone go in or not.

11.  Don’t use foul language

Tell your child you already know all these words; you don’t like them; and you’re not impressed when they’re used.

If your child insists on using foul language as a show-off mechanism, introduce a ‘swear jar’. Every time he uses a forbidden word, deduct an amount from his pocket money – for example, depending on the amount of pocket money, $1 or $2.

12.  Basic hygiene stuff

Teach your child to cover their mouth when they cough; sneeze into their sleeve or into a tissue (or at least cover their nose and mouth); do not pick their nose in public; and clean their teeth after breakfast and dinner. 

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