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How to teach better manners

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

How to... raise well-mannered kids

Good manners are essential social skills your kids will use now and for the rest of their lives. Children who grow up without proper manners and respectful behavior are more likely to have difficulty with family, friends, teachers and others. Follow these tips for raising polite, well-mannered children.

Young girl with manners eating dinnerStep 1: Be a good role model

Actions speak louder than words. We shouldn't expect our children to behave properly and possess good manners if we don't do the same. Use polite phrases such as "please," "thank you," "excuse me" and so on. Encourage your child to use these phrases, use proper table manners, respect others and take care of themselves.

Step 2: Begin when they are young

Even toddler-age children can start to learn the fundamentals of good manners and etiquette. Begin with the basics -- behave quietly in public places (use your inside voice), share with others, ask permission to use someone else's belongings, show respect for yourself and those around you, etc. By the time your child reaches preschool, she should know the rules of polite conduct and decorum, even if she doesn't use them all the time.

Step 3: Teach them to respect adults

Children should use proper manners and treat everyone around them with respect. Encourage your kids to address adults formally (Mrs. Smith, Mr. Jones, etc.) until the adult tells them it's not necessary. If they don't know or remember a particular person's name, they can use sir or ma'am.

Step 4: Encourage proper table manners

From the time a child can sit at the table, you should begin to encourage appropriate table manners. Set the rules for what is expected of your family at mealtime -- napkin on your lap, chew with your mouth closed, no elbows on the table or whatever other expectations you may have. Teaching social graces and better manners at home when children are young will instill good habits they will carry with them wherever they go as they grow.

Step 5: Praise positive behavior

Good manners and positive behavior should be expected, but shouldn't be ignored. Praise your children often to encourage good behavior to continue. Poor manners should be addressed by you immediately, without yelling or berating your children. In public, just show or tell them briefly again what is expected. Later in private, you can discuss the issue more thoroughly and continue to encourage your child to behave properly in the future.

Though your children don't have to always behave like they are at a cotillion, they should strive to be polite and well-mannered. Good manners are essential skills that kids need to develop at a young age, as they will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

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For more info on this topic...For more parenting tips, check out:
How to help kids succeed in school

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