18 Ways To Develop Good Manners In Your Children

The Goops – by Gillette Burgess

The Goops they lick their fingers,
and the Goops they lick their knives.
They spill their froth on the table cloth–
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
The Goops they talk while eating
And loud and fast they chew.
And that is why I’m glad that I
Am not a Goop–are you?

The Goops are gluttonous and rude,
They gug and gumble with their food.
They throw their crumbs upon the floor
And at dessert they tease for more.
They will not eat their soup and bread
But like to gobble sweets instead.
And this is why I oft decline,
When I am asked to stay and dine.

Good manners are hard to find these days, yet they are essential for success in life.  Clarence Thomas said, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”

What are good manners?

Good manners includes more than eating properly.

Emily Post, famous for writing about etiquette, put it this way:  “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

Manners are an outward expression of an inner feeling toward others. While they shouldn’t be a pretense, practicing them can create a feeling of goodwill toward people.

Which comes first?  Who knows, but a good place to begin is by teaching manners to your kids.

When should you start teaching manners?

Right away. The habit of good manners is best cultivated early.

Don’t allow or excuse anything that you will have to “untrain” later on.  What’s cute at 2 won’t be cute at 13.

Here is a list of manners to teach to help you get started:

  1. Greeting people by name and looking them in the eye. Shyness is no excuse.  Children can overcome shyness and learn to speak distinctly to adults.
  2. Introducing themselves properly to a stranger. Again, speaking clearly and looking the person in the eye.
  3. Properly introducing a friend to another.
  4. Shaking hands. Teach your boys to shake like men – a firm handshake not a knuckle-crusher. A soft, weak handshake is worse than a too-firm one.
  5. Teach your girls to walk like ladies and your boys to walk like men.
  6. Teach your boys to sit like men and your girls to sit like ladies.
  7. Answering the telephone politely. Something like, “Good morning, this is ________.” They should know how to ask people to hold on while they call you and to take a message if you are not available.
  8. Teach your boys to offer their seats to girls and to allow girls to walk through the door before them. Teach your girls to say thank you when boys do this.
  9. Teach them not to interrupt others while they are speaking.
  10. Teach them to show courtesy to strangers, old people, and guests.
  11. Don’t allow complaining, grumbling, and finding fault. These all show bad manners.
  12. Teach them to respect others by not talking loudly and laughing in public.
  13. Teach them to exercise good manners in business. Professor Shaler of Harvard once said that more young men fail from lack of manners than from any other one cause.
  14. Teach them to behave properly in public meetings. Church is a good place to teach this. Teach them to participate in the service – stand and sing, kneel and pray, and to be quiet during the sermon.
  15. Teach the use of “Thank you,” “Please,” “It’s a pleasure,” “Pardon me,” “Excuse me,” etc.
  16. Answering the door politely – and safely. Teach them not to allow strangers into your home, or to give away personal information to strangers.
  17. Men who are habitually behind time will be habitually behind success.  Allow your children enough time to be ready and then expect them to be ready.
  18. Proper table manners. Teach your kids to eat with their mouths closed, not to talk with food in their mouths, not to play with food, not to stuff their mouths too full, and to wait to be offered more if they are done.

They should learn to sit properly, wait until it is their turn to be served, how to hold a fork properly, and how to use a serviette.

They should learn not to reach across the table for things and refrain from expressing their dislike for certain foods.

 “Eat at your own table as you would eat at the table of the king.”  – Confuscius

Some of these can be taught very young, others can wait till your children are older, but teach them.

Start at home. Use role playing to teach how to greet people, answer the door and telephone, offer seats to girls, and shake hands.

Show the difference between bad table manners and good.  Laugh about it together and make the teaching a pleasant experience.

Success in life depends on more than talent.  There is power in good manners.

And after all, who wants to be a Goop?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.


  1. clever mukombe | 3rd Jun 17

    Thank you Jenny. This is so inspiring and informative. I will start teaching my kids right away in this new way.

    • Jenny Lovemore | 4th Jun 17

      I am glad that this is helpful to you! I could have used a list like this when my children were small. 🙂

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