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Teaching children good etiquette

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Teaching children good etiquette isn’t as old fashioned as you may think. Good manners cost nothing and as well as wanting your child to exhibit the appropriate behaviour in public, round a friends house or in school, teaching your child correct etiquette can actually help them develop skills that will serve them well in adult life. It may be knowing what cutlery to use in a fine dining restaurant or how to act in a job interview but a few simple tips can give them a little more confidence in themselves.

Set an example

It may be the basis of good manners but many children forget to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in their everyday life. As their parent, set the example and always use them when speaking to your child. Every time they give you their bottle say thank you or don’t let them have their treat until they’ve said ‘the magic word’. When they’ve been invited to a party, get them into the habit of thanking their friend and their parents for inviting them too.

play date dilemas

Teach your child to wait for someone’s attention. If you’re having a conversation with someone and you child is repeatedly calling your name or pulling on you, let them know that it’s polite to wait. When they do this make sure you praise them for waiting nicely and then give them your full attention afterwards.

Table manners

Encourage your child to set the table with you and teach them the basic cutlery and positioning. Start with just the knife, fork, side plate, napkin and glass, then you can add in further cutlery such as soup spoons, steak knifes etc.  As a general rule, when dining out and you’re faced with an array of knifes and forks, you start from the outside and work your way in.

teaching children good etiquette

Further good table manners include teaching your child to sit up straight, with their elbows off the table, napkin on their lap (or for young children tucked into their shirt) and not eating with their mouth open. Asking to be passed something instead of reaching over another person’s food to get condiments or a drink is a good tip they should remember and if they have a bread roll then they should break off small bite sized chunks and not make up sandwiches out of their dinner!


Accepting a compliment is something many of us struggle with even as adults. If another child tells them they like their new trainers or jacket, ensure they take the compliment seriously and always say thank you.

Holding the door

As your child gets older, get them into the habit of holding doors open for other people as they enter into a shop or walk into school. Many men will still hold a door open for a lady to walk through first which is a lovely gesture, but regardless of whether you child is male or female, holding a door open for anyone is good manners.

Telephone manners

Older children that may want to call their friends up on the phone at home should learn how to develop good telephone etiquette. Teach them to introduce themselves first before asking to speak to their friend. That way their parents will know whose calling and will show your child has good manners instead of just asking ‘is Ben there?’

Disruptive behaviour in children

Party invites

If your child has been given an invitation to a party and there is an RSVP required, ensure your child knows the importance of responding. Most of the time it can be just a quick call or text but for something more formal such as a wedding, then a card or hand written note would be a more appropriate gesture.



About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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