How do you teach children etiquette?

Aren’t children great? Just the sweetest of creatures all day long, extra cute around guests and never rude or messy or crazy… ha! What a strange world that would be!

Children are great, and, as most of us know – especially parents – they do not always do or say the most appropriate things – much to our embarrassment. And, of course, at a young age, they have no issues talking with their mouths full, or indeed with their faces full, of their most recent meal. Sometimes- to our absolute horror – they are more than happy to meet and greet our guests with a beautiful and oh-so-innocent yoghurt covered smile. Well, at least they haven’t wiped it on their sleeve -oh, too late.

Of course, we can’t expect children to be perfect, but there are some manners that all children should be taught and several things that we can do to teach children etiquette:

Top 5 Essential Manners to Teach Children:

1. Saying ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re Welcome’

This probably seems so basic, but if your child can learn to use these phrases naturally in conversation, they will develop a strong foundation in etiquette, which will help them as they grow older. You can take it a step further by teaching your child to write a Thank you note on receipt of a gift or remembering to use these phrases when speaking on the telephone.

2. Putting others first

It’s easy for children to be caught up in their own little worlds and we will often need to remind them to think about the needs and wants of others first. This can be basic things like holding doors open, offering someone else that last chocolate biscuit (good luck!), and waiting for someone to finish their sentence before responding.

3. Greeting people

First impressions are important and so are ongoing relationships. Teaching your child how to meet someone for the first time by making correct eye contact and smiling, are basic things that children should be practising. They also need to know how to be a hospitable host, and teaching them to offer guests something to eat and drink is a great way to start – and, of course, to win your guests over 😉

4. Behaviour when being served

We’ve all seen that rude person in the restaurant who talks down to the staff and we would hate for that to be our own child. From a young age, it’s important to teach our children to be polite and thankful to everyone. Also, if you can teach your child the ability to strike up a conversation with all those who work in service, such as bus drivers, checkout operators, waiters etc. they will learn not just to be polite, but also how to connect with people from all walks of life. That is a rare and highly valuable skill.

5. Respect

This is one that is often overlooked and it can take many forms.

There are basic things like respecting grandparents and the elderly in general, along with respecting different beliefs, genders and races. As our children get older, they will need to know how to navigate more complex social conversations and situations. For example, knowing how to respectfully disagree with someone, or how to politely decline an invitation or job offer. Respect is crucial for building and maintaining healthy relationships.

So, how do you teach children etiquette? There are several things that you can do yourself whilst at home or out and about with your children to teach them etiquette:

How to Teach Children Etiquette Through Play

Time to Play is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our children. The amount that they learn and develop through play is often underestimated. If you want to teach children etiquette, we highly recommend using games and role-play to teach your children manners and how to interact socially. For example, a fun role-play could be learning etiquette through Afternoon Tea. This would be a nice way to introduce the idea of social expectations, receiving guests and correct manners when dealing with people. Children usually love social games and dressing up as adults, so this could be a real treat for them. If they are more into superheroes or Disney characters, you could even have a themed dress code for it. Let them use their imagination and get involved with the planning. As long as your children are learning the rules of greeting guests, making polite conversation, how to pour the tea etc. whilst enjoying themselves, the other details aren’t too important.

How to Teach Children Etiquette through Conversation and Experiences

We live in a richly diverse world, and hopefully, at some point, your children will start to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. One of the best ways to prepare your children for this is to talk to them about different cultures and how social expectations may differ. For example, did you know that whilst handshaking in the UK is considered one of the most polite ways to greet someone of the opposite gender, in other cultures and countries this is not the case, in fact, it is considered highly inappropriate!

So, it’s worth making time to sit and talk with your children about etiquette, manners, and social expectations. Also, if possible, arrange for your children to meet people from different backgrounds. This will help your children understand how to speak to different people and give them the chance to ask questions about their culture and social values.

How to Teach Children Etiquette by Being a Role Model

Of course, children learn the most from copying those around them – often without even realising. One of the best ways to teach children etiquette is to let them see you put it into action. If your children are old enough, allow them to accompany you to dinners, social events, your workplace and even business meetings, if appropriate. Giving them the chance to shadow you will be an amazing experience for them and they will learn a lot, with very little effort on your part 😉

Etiquette Classes

Whilst we can teach most things to our children as their parents, sometimes it’s useful and necessary to take a step back and let them learn from someone else. Etiquette classes are very popular amongst children. It gives them the chance to learn proper etiquette rules and good social manners from an experienced instructor, and with other children.

Etiquette classes are considered a worthwhile investment because having a good understanding of proper etiquette can boost your child’s opportunities for success in life. It will make them stand out positively in interviews and social gatherings.

Whilst there are many etiquette classes and courses to choose from, here at Polished Manners we offer something a little less traditional. We teach etiquette and manners to children whilst ensuring that their own personalities and quirks shine through. We deliver the content in a fun and engaging way, without being too strict or ‘stuffy’. We aim to make our classes accessible to as many students as possible and teach a wide age range.

The environment and atmosphere in our etiquette classes is formal but also relaxed. Our students thoroughly enjoy themselves, learn a lot and sometimes you may even catch us having a good, polite giggle or laughter.