The well-mannered child

Here’s the 411 on when to teach your child basic good manners.

kids manners

Rude kids – who needs them? No one complains about a well-mannered child, but bad-mannered kids are not popular. And while some might not think manners are important, a courteous child undoubtedly gets a head start in life.


Manners for kids aged 2 years+

When do we start?

From around 2, a toddler starts to learn that there are other people in the world. Basic manners start with teaching your child that the root of all courtesy is realizing that other people’s needs and wants are just as important as their own.

  • Use role-play with dolls, stuffed animals or puppets to practice the ‘magic words’ – please, thank you, may I, it’s a pleasure, excuse me, I’m sorry.

  • Table manners can be taught early on. Eating with utensils, saying the magic words, chewing properly, helping with setting the table and clearing up afterwards are all easy ways to start. Use kid-friendly dinnerware to prevent mishaps, and be patient with the inevitable spills and accidents.


Manners for kids aged 3 years+

Getting on with others

From the age of 3, your child will start playing with other kids and interacting with adults, and this is where greeting people, sharing toys, letting someone else take a turn, and helping with small tasks, become important.  

  • Be firm with anti-social behavior such as biting and hitting. There is no excuse and such behavior should never be overlooked.


  • To teach children to tidy up after themselves, some deft techniques will be required, such as negotiation, praise and reward. The difference between a bribe and a reward is that a bribe is entirely conditional, whereas a reward would happen anyway – it is just deferred until after the chore is done!


Manners for kids aged 6 years+

No child is born grateful!

Appreciation is hugely important.  From the age of 6, children must learn to ask before borrowing, knock before entering, wait before speaking, and to say thank you when something is returned. A token of appreciation can be as simple as a hug, a drawing, a note or an inexpensive gift.  



Age 6 years+ is also the age to instill protocol. Phone etiquette, table manners, not interrupting, covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing, greeting people and remembering their names, and not staring or pointing.


It’s down to you

Teaching manners to children takes time, patience and sensitivity. Explanation and education can combine with props, toys and games to get the message through.  

  • Teach through role-play.  Hold up a stuffed toy or ‘talking stick’ to show when some behavior is appropriate or not. Using props also takes the emotion out of learning, so that children do not feel criticized or scolded when they get it wrong.


  • Teaching good manners helps with shyness, as a set of learned behaviors gives children confidence by showing them how things are done.  


Your best help, though, is your own behavior.  If you are polite and considerate with your children and the people around you, they will respond by being considerate to you and the people around them too.


Guest post by Niki Moore.