That seems like a pretty simple request, doesn’t it? But far too many parents drop the ball when it comes to teaching their children basic manners.
I’m talking about saying “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me.”
Am I being an old-school parent in worrying about these niceties? I hope not. But sometimes I wonder.
Last week, I was at the orthodontist with my son. As I approached the check-in desk, a boy about 13 years old and his mom were turning to leave. He accidentally bumped into me, and our feet got tangled. I nearly lost my balance and reached for the counter to steady myself.
Instinctively, I looked to the kid for an apology or at least some acknowledgement that we’d collided. Nothing. His mom didn’t say anything either. What?!
Now, I don’t want to overreact. He certainly didn’t run into my on purpose, and I didn’t come close to getting hurt. But an apology certainly was in order.
Parents should teach kids basic manners – and not assume they’ll pick them up sometime down the road. From an early age, parents should emphasize the importance of an apology, for instance.
BetterParentingInstitute.com recently had a great article entitled “5 Simple Etiquette Tips Every Child Needs to Know.”
The tips are so simple and so basic – yet so often overlooked by parents.
5 Etiquette Tips Every Child Needs To Know
Here they are:
- A proper greeting. “Teach your child to address people they meet by title and name,” writes Dr. Vicki Panaccione, a child psychologist. “Making eye contact is an important etiquette too.”
- A firm handshake. “How often have you met someone and formed an impression on the basis of a handshake?” she writes. “A handshake can say, ‘Pleased to meet you,’ as well as, ‘I am someone to pay attention to.’”
- Please and thank you. “I still think these two ‘magic words’ are the most important when teaching etiquette for children,” Panaccione says. “In this world of increasing entitlement, I am dismayed at how often these words are absent in interactions I witness between parents and kids.”
- Excuse me. “This is a valuable phrase that is used too little.”
- Not interrupting. “Nothing shows bad manners more than a child who runs up to his parents in mid-conversation and begins speaking. Teach your child that when you or anyone else is talking, they must wait until a break in the conversation before interrupting,” she writes.
These are excellent etiquette basics that a child should learn in elementary school. Unfortunately, some teenagers still haven’t learned them.
As a child grows up, you can supplement their etiquette education. For instance, I would add holding a door open for someone who needs assistance or making sure it doesn’t shut on the person behind you.
But start with the five tips above. By learning them, children learn to respect others.
Parents need to start teaching etiquette to their children at a young age. The sooner you begin, the easier it will be. If children learn proper manners, they will earn the respect of adults and be more likely to succeed.