How Rude! An Age-by-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Manners
Ages 1-2: Saying the Magic Words
- Use stuffed animals, dolls, or puppets to play dinnertime or teatime and practice saying "May I," "Please," "Thank-you," and "You're welcome."
- Encourage him to say "Excuse me" for burping (and bumping into others), and "I'm sorry" for being naughty. Don't make a big deal of burps and messes at the table when he's still little. It will take time to pick up good table manners.
- Have your children hand you their cup or bowl when they're finished. This is a precursor to helping clear the table. They can help bring napkins and kid-friendly dinnerware to and from the table, too.
Ages 3-6: Playing Well With Others
- Sharing his toys, taking turns, and playing fair with other children.
- Keeping his hands to himself and never hitting or name-calling.
- Picking up toys, books, and dirty clothes. Use this printable on clean-up time to help him learn.
- Helping set and clear the table (of anything child-friendly) at mealtimes.
- Saying good-bye and thank-you when leaving a friend's house or party.
Ages 3-6: Listening and Speaking on Turn
- Practice good listening as a parent so that your child can model your skills.
- Ask her to look at and listen to the person who's speaking and say "Excuse me" if she has something to say.
Ages 3-6: Making Introductions
- Practice shaking hands and saying "Hi, my name is..." at home with his siblings or even dolls or toys so that she gets used to the idea.
- Teach him more introduction etiquette, such as whether to call someone Mr. or Mrs., and how to be nice when older family members want to hug or kiss him.
Ages 7-10: Being Gracious
- Have her make a list of who came to her birthday party, gave her a holiday gift, or did something nice for her.
- Buy or – even better – make some thank-you cards on special paper and try this thank-you card writing activity.
Ages 7-10: Being a Good Sport
Ages 7-10: Respecting Others' Belongings and Privacy
- Go over rules for privacy, ownership, and space in your household. Tell your child she always needs to ask permission before touching or taking things from family members and friends.
- As a family, make or decorate door signs or doorknob hangers for everyone's bedroom to show that it's their own space. Ask your children to knock before entering if a door is closed.
Ages 11-13: Being a Good Guest
- Don't overstay his welcome. Talk with the host parent about when he should come home.
- Use his best table manners.
- Speak and listen respectfully, making eye contact and not rolling his eyes. Don't tolerate swearing or other rude behavior.
- Clean up after himself and thank the host family before leaving.
Ages 14-18: Respecting You and Other Adults
- Listen to your teen and expect her to listen to you in return. Mutual respect is more important than ever during your child's teen years.
- Tell her that being on time for appointments and other plans is a sign of respect, so don't be late.
- Encourage her to help older people when they need a hand. Volunteering is a great way to practice good manners and interacting with different kinds of people.
- Give your teen time for privacy and using new media, like cell phones and music players. But ask for her full attention when you're talking or eating with her. Most teens are obsessed with media, so setting rules for appropriate use will help her learn good etiquette.