Kids Manners

Kids manners ... how to help kids develop good manners that actually build their self awareness and sensitivity to others

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Kids manners ... how to help kids develop good manners that actually build their self awareness and sensitivity to othersDon’t talk with your mouthful!

Keep your mouth closed when you’re eating!

Don’t put your elbows on the table.

I feel like a stuck record!

And my daughter’s not yet four, so what on earth am I doing nagging her … and it is nagging … about her manners?

Of course I want to encourage kindness and sensitivity to and respect for others.

So “please” and “thank you” and, the trickier one, “no thank you”, are, no question, musts.

But does so much other stuff that counts as “manners” really matter for kids? Should I be obsessed about her not talking with her mouthful or should I be encouraging her at the earliest age, to have opinions and things to say and to delight in conversation.

Do I nag because I don’t want her to “embarrass” me and because I don’t want to be judged by others or do I actually care about these things and think they are important?

As with so much of motherhood, my head is in a spin. I can see every which way of the argument and end up feeling caught between the two. I’d like to think it’s sensible balance but maybe it’s just chronic indecision.

So many of the manners I worry about are the ones my parents nagged me about.

And when you step back, there is some sense in most of them.

Talking with your mouthful and eating with your mouth open are just basically unhygienic.

Slouching at the table is bad for digestion and what mum isn’t obsessed by kids’ digestion?

Leaning over, rather than asking for things to be passed, is a recipe for food all over the floor.

And I do think physical self awareness and self discipline are essential foundations for independence and self expression and the confidence and ability to be what you want to be.

But I guess in some ways the physical things are the easy manners.

It’s the other stuff that is hard. The stuff about people …

… not feeling entitled to everything you want. Really feeling the gratitude behind “thank you”. Not interrupting because you’re actually listening to what someone is saying. Caring about other people’s feelings so much that it is really hard to say “no thank you” to something they offer. Genuinely appreciating kind words or praise.

This isn’t something that you can teach in simple rote manners.

But maybe my prompts … OK, my nagging … sews some tiny seeds in that lifelong journey to real self awareness that instinctively considers others as much as oneself.

What do you think? Do manners matter? Which ones do you worry about?

Or should we leave kids alone?

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Hello, I'm Luci, Editor of Mums Make Lists. MML is full of creative tips I’ve put together to bring calm and balance to the lives of busy mums and their families.

16 thoughts on “Kids Manners”

  1. Thanks, Interesting topic. I tend to concentrate more on the “people” stuff – thinking of others, sharing etc which they learn from example I think. If someone is upset we try and work out why and the reasons behind it and talk through situations. How would you feel if someone did that to you ? is a favourite.
    Popped over from PoCoLo

  2. I totally agree. I feel like I am walking a fine line a lot of the time between being plain annoying and being super wise haha.
    I think it is so important that kids learn manners to other people.
    Treat others how you want to be treated is a lesson I learnt as a child and I make it a priority in my home too!
    But truly eating with your mouth open is one of my pet peeves so maybe I’m just an all round stickler for manners

    Visiting from

  3. Oh I agree with you…I think they are a precursor to thoughtfulness and respect for other people…but boy oh boy does it get tiring…but then someone comments “your kids are so polite and well behaved” and then I think to myself, I guess it is worth it 🙂

    Stopping by from Post Comment Love, Dawn from I Think We Could Be

  4. When my oldest boy, who’s now 6, started school I was surprised how much he noticed when other children weren’t using manners in class. He now tells me he doesn’t like it when they are not polite so he makes sure he is. #PoCoLo

  5. I think table manner are very important. We try to focus at one thing to learn at a time, starting with please and thank you. We are now on talking with his mouth full. I have to say it has improved my own manner bad habits, as I try to teach by example.

  6. When I decide if a manner is important is: Will this be acceptable when they are 10? And if it won’t be, then I try to start teaching it young. For instance, I don’t really care if a two year old is jumping on the couch, but you can bet that when that two year old is ten and jumping on the couch I am going to be mad. So I teach the two year old that its not okay to jump on the couch. Children should earn MORE privileges as they get older, not lose them.

  7. I try to work on one manner at a time and to ignore the other ones. Once he’s got that down, we work on another one. It works until I forget or am cranky and start nagging for perfection all at once. It’s really hard, especially when they seem to need reminding on everything all at once 🙂

  8. Great post…manners do go beyond the dinner table. As a teacher, I see MANY kids who don’t have any concept whatsoever what manners are! We need to instill these (discreetly) in our children every day without being too pushy or negative, otherwise it’ll go in one ear and out the other!

  9. Good manners are so important, children with great manners stand out a mile from kids who don’t and that goes on into adulthood too. If we take the time to set the standards for our children and teach them good manners, we are setting them up for life.

  10. ABSOLUTELY manners matter. Kids with no manners grow up to be adults with no manners. Etiquette isn’t in place for the individual, it’s in place for everyone else around that individual (no one wants to see food churning in the mouth of the person across from them.) Great article. ~ Pary Moppins

  11. I have a 22 year old daughter and an 18 year old son. Manners matter. It teaches them the world is not about them. It’s about respect and dignity. It teaches them self control. To honor others above themselves. They will stand out in the world, when it comes time to get a job or times when their character will be judged. Kids with no manners are horrible to be around, unpleasant and they dominate the whole environment. Adults can’t visit or enjoy each other’s company because the kids are rotten. So yes…keep it up. You are doing the right thing. xoxo

  12. I like reading other people’s thoughts on manners because its something I go back and forth on a lot. When Goblin was really small and only just learnt to talk I used to get really annoyed when the older generation looked horrified if he forgot please and thank you, but now i realise i could have helped him out a lot by nagging from an earlier age so it got ingrained earlier – manners grease the wheels of society and kids who have them will get more from people (thats a harsh way to look at it but it feels true when my son is being sneered at for forgetting his manners). I’m sharing this on the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.

  13. I haven’t really put this into practice with my child yet, but I do think think that kids manners matter. I don’t think we need to ask them to do more than we do ourselves. It is just being courteous and respectful of others. Thanks for linking up at Romance on a dime!!

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