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  25 Manners Every Kid Can Master by Age 10

When I was a little girl, no one used manners at my house. The closest I got was, "Be a good girl and go get ___." 

The father of my children was raised in a very different environment and his family was all about manners. This was important to him so when we had kids, we started early with, "May I please?" and "Thank you," and "Excuse me."

My kids were pretty motivated by the, "May I please?" because it yielded something they wanted. The "Thank you" was a little more challenging. I remember hanging on to desired objects ~ my hand on one side and the outstretched hand of one of my children on the other. We would stand silently, looking at each other. It makes me laugh now to remember their quizzical expressions (I could almost hear the wheels turning), and then the missing, "THANK YOU!" as I immediately released the cookie and said, "You're welcome." Sooner than I could believe, it became their habit and it lives on today.

At school conferences, teachers commented on how polite my kids were. I think they stood out because so few of the others used manners. I firmly believe that being polite is one of the most significant contributors to their academic and social successes. Who among us doesn't appreciate eye contact, a "Good morning," a"Please" an "Excuse me," or a "Thank you?"

It is nice to feel appreciated, and it was a skill I had to learn along with my kids since I was not taught at home. Their dad set a great example by always saying, "Thank you for dinner," and every time he thanked me, our kids would echo him.

From, "Helping your child master these simple rules of etiquette will get him noticed -- for all the right reasons," David Lowry, Ph.D. writes, "A child's rude 'tude isn't always intentional...And in the hustle and bustle of daily life, busy moms and dads don't always have the time to focus on etiquette. But if you reinforce these 25 must-do manners, you'll raise a polite, kind child."


1. When asking for something, say "Please."

2. When receiving something, say "Thank you."

3. Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

4. If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

5. When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

6. The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

7. Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.

8. When people ask you how you are, answer them and then ask them how they are.

9. When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

10. Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering.

11. When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

12. Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

13. Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, they find them unpleasant.

14. If you can't say anything nice, say nothing.

15. Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

16. Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best. 

17. If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."

18. Cough and sneeze into your bent elbow.

19. As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

20. If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new.

21. When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

22. When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

23. Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do. 

24. Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

25. Don't reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.

26. You do not have to be friends with everyone, you will not like everyone you meet but, at a minimum, just be polite.