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Teaching Manners and Good Social Etiquette

​We have all had experiences with bad manners, whether it's the shopper who runs into you and doesn't say, “excuse me," or the clerk who never looks up from their cell phone when you are trying to talk to them. There are definitely times when it's seems that good manners are a thing of the past, but they shouldn't be. Manners are a sign of respect and that's why it's so important to teach our children these vital social skills.

Teaching manners should start at an early age and begin with the words, “please, thank you and excuse me."  The goal is to arrive at the point where these words are used almost automatically. You must be patient with your kids as learning and using good manners takes time. Regular reinforcement can help to ensure that the use of good manners continues.

“I relate having good manners to having a superpower," said Bridget Barnes, Boys Town Common Sense Parenting® expert. “Using good manners puts other people at ease and makes them feel respected. I tell kids that using good manners offers them the chance to shine."

Manners actually communicate your values. We cannot expect our children to demonstrate manners in public if they aren't expected to use them at home. Regular use of manners at home helps kids to become more comfortable and to use them naturally when in the company of others. Practice makes perfect. Remember, when you catch your kids using good manners, praise them and tell them how much you appreciate it.

Good manners and proper etiquette are about so much more than when to say “thank you" or what fork to use at the dinner table. They involve being present and aware of your situation, listening, and being respectful of others. Parents need to remember that while kids may not like to be reminded to use their manners, they will thank you later as manners will serve them well in life by giving them the confidence that comes from knowing how to behave in a variety of social settings.​

Boys Town offers valuable resources for parents including classes like Common Sense Parenting and parenting guides, articles, videos, tools and quick tips on a variety of subjects developed by Boys Town experts.  For more information, visit ​