As parents, one of the most difficult tasks to teach a child is to mind their manners and have good behavior. Below are some key things to keep in mind while helping your child learn good behavior and appropriate manners.


Visual Aides

Children learn by “seeing” things.  Whether it is putting your bed time routine up (as pictures) in the bedroom or having posters hanging up in the classrooms, visual aides help serve as reminders to children as to what they should be doing.

Role Playing/Acting Out

How are children expected to know what to do if they have not been taught how to do it?  Role playing is a fun way to demonstrate to kids how to behave in different situations or settings.  We role play and practice what we (society) are supposed to do for earthquakes and tornadoes, why not do it for manners and social behaviors?

– Role playing with a play kitchen set how to behave at the kitchen table, or 
– Role playing knocking on a door and waiting for response before entering.

If a child forgets to use their manners in a specific situation, reenact the scene.  Discuss how people feel when situations are handled with and without manners. 

Expectations (and Preparation)

It’s important that parents or guardians set clear and simple expectations for their children.  When our children know what is expected of them they will more likely respond the way we, as adults, want them to react. Discuss situations before they arise. 

– Before a Christmas party, discuss that they may 
receive gifts and why it’s important to say thank-you.
– Before entering a store, remind your children that they need to walk near you because you do not want to lose them, or do not touch items, because they might break.

When children forget their manners, or forget to do something that was previously discussed, politely remind them in a respectful way, as to not embarrass them.

Be A Role Model

Children model the behaviors they observe.  Use please, thank you, and excuse me when speaking with children and adults.  Model manners by offering to help other people, holding the door, and picking up dropped items.  Teach children to respect all people by treating everyone including neighbors, waitresses, and co-workers with respect.  Explain your actions so children learn from you.Examples:
– Explaining why you helped an elderly woman reach items at the grocery store or why you helped a family member when they were sick.
– Explaining why you tipped the waitress at the restaurant, or why you were patient with the frazzled check-out clerk at the store.


Be Consistent

Mixed messages about settings and people can be confusing.  This is my favorite phrase while working with parents.  Be consistent! Children thrive on structure and consistency. Children are less likely to forget to be polite if their manners are repeatedly and consistently practiced.

When you observe your children demonstrating positive behaviors, praise the behavior!  Be clear about what you are happy about seeing and why it was good.

– “Johnny, I like how you shared your toys with your younger brother.  It made him very happy to play with you”
– “Joanna, I like how you said Thank-you to Grandma for your new quilt.  She worked really hard in making that for you and she’s happy to see that you appreciate it.”
– “Bobby, I like how you helped the man at the store reach the bottom shelf.  He was older and it was difficult for him to reach the bottom shelf, you made it easier for him.”



Teaching children manners can be difficult, however being a positive role model and preparing your children can make things easier. Hope this blog post helps!

Let me know what you think or if I missed anything!

Best Wishes,

PS: Here are some links that you might find helpful!

Teaching Table manners

Teaching Sportsmanship

Handing Introductions Gracefully


Jennie Wilson is a child and adolescent therapist. She holds the credentials of a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor