Manners are important to me . . . and to my husband . . . and maybe even my 13 yr. old, but not so much to my younger children (although they're not terrible).  I know it's OUR job as parents to help our younger children understand why manners are important and to teach them proper behaviors.  And what better place to practice than at home?!  :) 
my biggest offenders

We have a lot of friends over . . . I'm not awesome at planning playdates, we are just lucky to have lots of kiddos close enough to ride bikes or walk over when they want to play.  For the most part they are sweet kids, but sometimes lack manners.  I'm not trying to imply that my kids have perfect manners -- they don't.  But I'm used to them, and their behavior - so when I watch their friends, I can see more clearly what I want my kids to do and not to do.  (Does that make sense?)

For instance,
I don't want my kids raiding other people's pantrys or fridges without an ivitation. 
I don't want my kids being rude or mean to their friends little brothers and sisters. 
I don't want my kids telling adults or older siblings that they 'are not the boss' of them. 
I don't want my kids to be disrespectful to others - friends and parents alike. 
I don't want my kids to be neglectful with other people's property (like standing on the furniture, or leaving tools or bikes outside to get rained on, or putting holes in the walls, or breaking lights, or toys, etc. -- BOYS!). 
And, I don't want my kids to walk into someone else's house and not address the adult(s) that live there with a kind greeting when one is offered to them. 

I DO want my kids to say "thank you for having me over". 
I DO want my kids to help clean up after themselves when they are at someone else's house (and their own house for that matter!). 
And I DO want my kids to do the opposite of all the afore mentioned shananigans.  :)

So, I've thought about it, and here is a list of some manners I hope to instill in my children:

 1.  table manners ~ basic etiquette . . . could be it's own post
 2.  introductions / greetings ~ Don't call adults by first name only, smile, look in eyes, speak clearly, etc.
 3.  please - thank you - sorry - excuse me ~ common sense manners, a little effort goes a long way
 4.  how to take compliments ~ be gracious (don't say 'I know' when someone says you have pretty eyes - and don't say 'no I don't' when someone tells you that you look nice.  Just say thank you :)
 5.  holding doors - the rules of entering and exiting ~ always let exit-ers exit before you enter, hold door for others
 6.  telephone manners ~ how to answer the phone, how to take a message
 7.  not interupting other people when they are speaking ~ ehem . . . like when mom is on the phone
 8.  good sportsmanship ~ how to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser
 9.  respect differences ~  always be kind (don't tease)
10. clean up after self ~ no matter where you are 

Visit raising lemons for teaching kids all sorts of manners.

My husband grew up in the south, where manners were emphasized.  For example, he was required to say "yes, ma'am", and "no, sir".  When addressing adults he NEVER called them by their first name unless he put a Miss or Mr. in front of it (like Miss Kjirsten, or Mr. Quinn).  And formal dinners were common place. 

These were three things that I fell in love with when I married into this Southern family.  And I have worked my darndest to continue these traditions in my own family.  It is certainly a work in progress . . . but certainly worth the effort!!!!

Across the Universe
My husband tells our children this, all the time.  Good manners can go a long way!  ;)


  1. ooh, i know what you mean. i know my kids aren't perfect, but having friends over sure teaches you what you do and don't want your own kids doing. we've been pretty lucky in our little neighborhood. there are some really good kids here, but i worry that as the boys get older, their friends might start to get less polite (you know, when they hit those ages where they're trying to be cool).
    brad tells me that when he was younger, his mom was the type of mom who would call his friends out all the time. she'd say, 'excuse me! did your mother teach you to just walk into someone else's house and help yourself into the fridge? that's not what i've taught MY kids and i'm sure your mom didn't either!' he said it was pretty embarrassing, but i'm sure it also taught HIM how to act at his friends' houses. : )

  2. Such a good point Carrie. I DO think it's extension of teaching our own kids. I didn't start out being the mom who would 'call people out', but I have definately become that mom, too. Not to be mean, but to set some ground rules, and make sure that everybody's on the same page -- and it works! Like Brad, Caleb was sometimes embarassed, but now he tells his friends before hand what the rules are, and it certainly helps. :) Love you!

  3. GREAT post!! We need to practice this with ALL of our kids...not that they have BAD manners, our kids are just REALLY quiet and that sometimes can come off as impolite or rude. I have noticed that when the friends that DO have good manners come over , I try and highlight that to my kids or tell the friends how much I appreciate how respectful they are and I tell my kids how much easier it is to have those friends over more often. We have some "pantry raider" friends that drive me a bit crazy! I always have to tell them that we don't do that at anyone's house...not even our own and that we ALWAYS have to ask nicely first! I l love how Kjirst and Brad's mom handled those situations with friends! I'm going to do that and hopefully my quiet kids will speak up and help lay down the law when their buddies lack manners:) I'm going to work on this, this week!! Thanks for the reminder and the nudge Kj!

  4. Okay, this is a great post! Every single one of those "dont's" are pet peeves of mine! And I get so mortified when my kids do any of them! I'm going to recommit myself to taking and teaching good manners seriously!

  5. So true Caroline . . . I like how you point out the respectful friends to your kids, and explain how nice it is (or easier) to have those friends over. I've tried to do that as well, and that's exactly why Caleb and Liam "prep" their friends before they come over . . . they know exactly what will "impress" Quinn and I, so we'll be happy to have those friends come again. Pretty smart move! :)

    Kar, I totally agree with being mortified when one of my kids do any of those things too!! And when they do -- I just can't understand why they think it would be O.K. to do that at someone else's house when they know that it's not O.K. at their own!! Make's no sense. -- Luke (my 6yr old) is the one that just makes me crazy with his lapses in judgement!! :)

  6. what a great post! I was actually just thinking about all this with Colton, my 13month old and how I am already trying to teach him right from wrong. Love the list of do's and dont's already lined up.

  7. Amen, Sister! I always think my kids don't listen and aren't picking up ANYTHING I'm trying to teach them, and then weeks later they do something that surprises me. It gives me comfort because manners don't seem like they're sinking in to our childrens' minds, but I'm hoping they are. I think the best way to teach them manners is to live them ourselves, but I love the special little tricks you mentioned, and if you have more...please share!

  8. Soooo true Sarie . . . more sinks in than we think -- which is why we keep working on things. And I agree 100% -- our example speaks the loudest!!

    And Danielle, I don't think it's ever too early to start on basic manners -- and teaching right from wrong, like you said. That way they learn little by little, and are not required to take a crash course when they're older and more set in their ways. Wise mama. :)