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Diana Mather is a British etiquette and presentation skills tutor based in Cheshire and London. She is the author of eleven books, including four children’s books.

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Published

15 April 2024

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Teaching good manners to children is essential for their social development, to help them make friends and enhance their overall well-being.

Here are some key manners to instil in children.

Excuse me!

‘Excuse me’ are two essential words.

Teach children to say ‘excuse me’ when they need to get someone’s attention or if they need to interrupt a conversation. They should also use it if they need to pass by someone or when they accidentally bump into anyone. 

Respecting elders

In this age of more relaxed etiquette, it’s still important to teach children to address adults with respect.

Explain to children why it’s important to show respect to adults and authority figures. Teach them to make good eye contact with adults and to listen attentively when adults are speaking to them.

Keeping promises

Stress the importance of keeping promises and following through on commitments. 

This is fantastic training for life, as they need to learn that their words and actions have consequences and that keeping promises builds trust and integrity.

Listening skills

With the use of smartphones often comes a lack of concentration and respect.

Teach children the importance of active listening, which involves paying attention to what others are saying, waiting for their turn to speak, and asking questions to show interest. It is also essential that we, as parents and caregivers, listen properly to children because we are their role models. 

Respecting personal space 

Teach children to respect personal space by understanding boundaries and not standing or sitting too close to others.

Children should also ask permission before touching someone or their belongings. Help them understand the concept of personal space and why it’s important to respect it.

Apologising

Learning to apologise sincerely when they have made a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings is vital for children’s social development.

The younger they learn to take responsibility for their actions and apologise when they’ve done something wrong, the better. Understanding the value of admitting mistakes and making amends are crucial lessons for life.

Cleaning up after themselves

Many of us find it easier to tidy up after our children than get them to do it themselves, but if children are to grow up as responsible adults, they need to learn to clean up their own messes and put away their belongings after use, especially if they are staying with other people, at a sleepover, for instance.

Being polite in public

Being polite in public shows that children have been well brought up.

Talk about appropriate behaviour in public places, such as not shouting, walking instead of running, and not pushing past people: respecting others’ space. It is fundamental that we also behave politely ourselves and praise our children when they are well-mannered in public.

It’s important to remember that children often learn by observing and imitating adults. Furthermore, praise can go a long way in encouraging children to continue practising good manners.

The benefit of good manners

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