Manners are behavior based on respect that is still the ultimate goal in all civil societies. Sadly, American adults are exhibiting less civility toward one another, and children are following suit with teachers and peers.
We’ve all seen THOSE kids? You know the ones… the kids who are acting wild in public, while their parents stand by oblivious and do nothing about it. Or when one of our children invites a friend to dinner, and the friend has no table manners and is just plain rude. What if someone told you, that was your kids? Maybe it is, and you just aren’t aware of this fact.
In 1999, 73 percent of Americans in an ABC NEWS/World News Tonight poll thought manners were worse than 20 or 30 years ago.
Poll respondents placed the primary blame on inadequate or poor parenting. They also cited video games, movies and television shows that encouraged children to be less respectful of others. Therefore, it is no surprise that manner illiteracy is rampant in classrooms, offices, and society from coast to coast.
A July 2014 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll results were that 56% of respondents would like to see the end of emails and texting during dinner.
A Parents Role:
Parents have a responsibility to instill manners into their children at young ages. As we all know from experience, very young children are sponges soaking up everything they see and hear. Adults need to be good role models and practice good manners consistently. Kids will model our behavior and manners, so what we do, they will do. The ownership for poor manners lies squarely with their role models. The early years are called the formative years for a reason.
How To Teach Manners:
Kids need to be taught basic manners such as removing their hats when eating or entering a room, holding doors open for others, and making eye contact when speaking. Saying “please” and thank you.” Many adults do not know how to hold forks and knives properly and fail to teach this essential skill, which will be a lifelong skill, to their children.
19 Manners Kids Should Know By Age 7
1. Teach your child always to say, “Please” when asking for something.
2. Teach your kids to say “Thank you” when receiving something or someone has helped them.
3. Teach them to say, “Excuse me” when they need to get through a crowd, bump into someone or want to get someone’s attention.
4. Teach them not to interrupt, whether it is interrupting a conversation between two people that they are not a part of (unless it is an emergency) or when someone is speaking to them.
5. Teach your kids the golden rules of conversations; they will use these skills in their professional lives:
o Do not interrupt another while someone is speaking.
o Do not contradict
o Do not do all the talking, let others speak
o Be a good listener.
o Do not misquote or lie.
o Do not exaggerate.
o Stay on track and do not sidetrack the conversation
o Be civil, even if you disagree with the other person or their opinion. State the facts; educate but do not argue or demean others. It serves no purpose.
6. Show them how it’s impolite to comment on other people’s characteristics or physical appearances unless it is a compliment.
7. Teach your child to always ask permission. It’s important that they understand if they aren’t sure about taking or using something, it is always better to ask first.
8. Teach your kids to be grateful. Gratitude goes a long way.
9. Teach your children how to write a simple thank you note, especially when they receive gifts in the mail. They shouldn’t be allowed to use the gift until they have properly thanked whoever gave it to them.
10. Give your child a lesson in hygiene. Teach them to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze and to never pick their nose and always use a tissue. Teach them to politely respond when someone asks them how they are and to always ask the question back.
11. Tell them how important it is to respect other people’s privacy.
12. Always knock on closed doors and wait for a response before opening it.
13. Enforce the idea of table manners. Teach them to not reach across the table to get something, but instead, ask if someone can pass it to them.
14. Teach them to hold the door open for others if the opportunity presents itself and always say, “Thank you” if someone held the door for them.
15. Show them how to clean up after themselves both after playtime and eating.
16. Tell them to always remember people’s names and to address people by their names when speaking to them.
17. Teach them not to litter and how important is it to keep our earth clean.
18. Tell them why it’s important to always have good sportsmanship whether you win or lose.
19. Teach your child to take their shoes off whenever they enter anyone’s home.
The 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll showed that nearly two out of three Americans (64 percent) admit to having flipped the bird it at some time in their life.
Bringing Manners To The Table:
Any doubts that manners are facing extinction at meals is the result of the fast-paced drive-through eating habits of many families leaves children hungry for mealtime etiquette.
Table manners are a skill that every child needs to learn and learn at young ages. These skills they will use throughout their professional lives. There is nothing worse than being at a dinner meeting with peers and watching one hold a fork like a pitchfork or a shovel as they jam their mouths full of food and then start talking. This is a pretty disgusting visual image, isn’t it?
Telling kids not to throw food, take food from others’ plates, and talk too loudly are good places to start teaching table manners with toddlers.
The table is not the place for yelling, and we need to instill in our kids that this is inappropriate behavior.
The same holds true for walking around during dinner. Food should be passed around in an orderly fashion. Fighting for food is not acceptable. No one should chew with his or her mouth open or talk with a mouth full of food. Silverware and plates are not musical instruments during dinner.
Dinner food should stay at the table and should not be carried haphazardly around the house and left on the carpet for munching on later. Kids should ask the adults if they wish to be excused from the table. These table manners also apply when eating at restaurants, which is why table manners need to be practiced at home.
Parents need to be consistent and make sure both parents are on the same page. If one parent decides the rules are too harsh or the kids are funny when running around the kitchen with food or stuffing their faces full and talking, it will undermine the other parent’s work. Once you’re in agreement with each other, use gentle guidance and reinforce the appropriate behavior to instill basic table manners.
When your kids see that dinnertime is much more enjoyable when everyone is practicing good manners, the behaviors will sink in and become part of their daily routine.
Whether you are starting your kids early or late, teaching good table manners will take a while, so be patient and continue to reinforce those behaviors that are important. After a month or so, you will start to notice little things that just happen. Remember that you are your kid’s role model, so if you are texting or checking email or social media during dinner time, expect your children to do the same. You are teaching your kids that other things are more important than them and their manners.
15 Table Manners Kids Should Know By The Time They Are 7
- Wash their face and hands before dinner.
- Take your hat off when at the table.
- Put your napkin on your lap.
- Start eating when everyone else does—or when given the okay to start.
- Stay seated and sit up straight.
- Keep elbows (and other body parts) off the table while eating.
- Chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk with your mouth full of food.
- Don’t make bad comments about the food.
- Say “Please pass the…” instead of reaching.
- Have a conversation with everyone at the table.
- Don’t make rude noises like burping or slurping.
- Do not slurp with a straw.
- Ask to be excused when finished.
- Thank whoever prepared the meal.
- Offer to help clear the table.
Teach Your Kids Why Manners Are Important
Children need to take ownership of the process of learning manners and will if you involve them in the ideas and reason why proper manners are important. Take the time to sit them down and let them know that you would like to start seeing better manners. Pointing out their shortcomings will lead to unnecessary anguish. Just let them know it’s something you want to do as a family.
Let everyone in the family know you expect actual manners and that you will have a low level of tolerance for poor manners.