Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Really and truly, I am not one of those people who sits around complaining about younger generations. I'm not old enough for that yet, but I have noticed lately how many kids don't seem to know much about the subject of manners. Mine included. We're pretty casual around here, and although I like that I do think my kids would benefit from learning proper manners.

This is good for me too. As we've done this I have come to realize how casual I have gotten. I frequently catch myself with my elbows on the table and I've never ever been good with Thank You notes. I've sworn to rectify this, as it sets a bad example for the kids.

In thinking about how to teach this I've broken it down into a few categories. I'm sure more will occur to me, but for the moment I think this is enough for the kids to take in.

1. Table Manners
-How to set a table
-Please and thank you
-No complaining (I was a stickler for this already)
-Elbows off the table
-Chew with your mouth closed
-If a strange food is offered to you, at least try it
-If you are at someone else's house, thank them for inviting you and for their efforts
-Wait to be excused
-Hands to yourself
-Help clear the table (at home) offer to help when at a friend or family member's home

2. Playtime Manners
-If a friend is over, let them pick what to play
-If you are at a friends, clean up before you leave. At home, clean up when you are done.
-When leaving a friends, thank them and their parent for inviting you
-Please and Thank You
-Follow other people's house rules, even if they aren't the same as ours
-Listen to the adult in charge
-Never be a sore loser or gloat when you win
-No arguing
-No whining

3. Correspondence and Communication
-Answer the phone politely
-Take a message if someone can't come to the phone
-Be polite to people who have dialed the wrong number
-When someone gives you a gift, thank them in person and send a thank-you note
-Don't interrupt
-If someone is talking on the phone, be quiet so as not to disturb them
-Don't talk on the phone to one friend while another is over

It will take some time, I'm sure, but I think this will be a really valuable exercise for my kids.


  1. I'm there with you--it's about practice and consistency. My kids have their table manners ALMOST nailed, their phone manners are coming along (not much practice, unfortunately) and their play date skills aren't bad for boys.

  2. Excellent! Good for you Green girl. I think this is such an important thing to teach kids. Your boys will thank you someday.

  3. Hi, Stella - good for you also. I spent part of my childhood (in the 60s) in Europe, and my parents were bound and determined that we kids would not be "ugly Americans." Between my folks' vigilance, and English public schools' emphasis on good manners, we did quite well.

    I have a work colleague with a really rather sweet 6-year-old daughter. Would you believe that she's sending her daughter to a "play therapist" to learn the very skills you and Green Girl are doing on your own? Sheesh! Experts!

  4. Wow. A Play therapist? Sometimes I think being broke saves me a lot of money. It would never occur to me to pay a play therapist for something like that.

    I've wondered if British schools focus more on manners than American schools do. It doesn't surprise me to hear that they do.

  5. Stephanie,

    What a great blog. I was inspired by the manners post. My boys, I'm not proud to admit, have terrible manners! Not as in unkindness or rudeness, but in table manners, you'd think we were raising monkeys;-). I will try your idea and make some progress these next few weeks. Thanks for the suggestion. Signed, Mother of apparent primates...