Top 25 Children’s Etiquette Lessons

According to etiquette expert, two-time bestselling author, and founder of The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program, Myka Meier, there is an exact time to start teaching children’s etiquette. “I always say from the moment your child can sit at the dining table with you (even in a highchair), it’s time to start teaching good manners and etiquette!” Myka says. For little ones, it starts even before they can speak. While handing them food at the dinner table, say “please” and “thank you” for them so they can hear the context of how the words are used. That being said, it’s never too late to start teaching etiquette to children! For older children, she feels it’s important to teach good manners through compassion and respect, asking how something would have made the child feel if it happened to them and what they should do next time. “If you can raise a child to think about how their actions affect other people, you’re doing a great job.”

Most importantly, Myka teaches that every etiquette lesson should go back to kindness and respect. “Many people think dining etiquette, for example, is about learning to be formal, but instead, it’s actually about using good table manners to show those dining around you respect.” And remember, it’s never too late to begin teaching your child etiquette and good manners.

Here are Myka’s top 25 children’s etiquette lessons every child should know by the age of 10:

  1. The True Meaning of Etiquette: Etiquette is about showing respect and kindness to everyone and all living things around you.
  2. Use Polite Phrases: Use the phrases “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” every day.
  3. Inviting Others: How to invite someone to join a group if they are alone.
  4. Proper Use of Silverware: How to hold silverware correctly.
  5. Speak Kindly: If there is nothing nice to say, it’s best not to say anything at all.
  6. Use a Napkin Properly: How to properly use a napkin to wipe your mouth (no sleeves!).
  7. Chew with Your Mouth Closed: The importance of chewing with your mouth closed.
  8. Table Etiquette: No elbows on the table—ever!
  9. Hat Etiquette: Take off a hat upon entering someone’s home.
  10. Respectful Interruptions: Do not interrupt an adult when they are speaking to someone else.
  11. Complimenting Others: Avoid comments on someone’s appearance unless it’s to say something nice.
  12. Writing Thank You Letters: How to write a thank you letter.
  13. Giving Compliments: How to give a compliment to someone else.
  14. Polite Introductions: How to introduce themselves and others properly.
  15. Body Language Awareness: Be aware of positive body language and how to show it.
  16. Handshakes: How to shake hands correctly.
  17. Restaurant Behavior: If invited to a restaurant, how to behave respectfully.
  18. Helping Others: Always help someone in need, particularly if they are less able than you.
  19. Respectful Address: Do not call an adult by their first name unless the adult introduces themselves as so or instructs the child to do so.
  20. Knocking on Doors: Always knock on a door before opening it.
  21. Eye Contact: How to make eye contact when speaking to another person.
  22. Pointing and Staring: Not to point or stare.
  23. Covering Mouths: Always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
  24. Phone Etiquette: How to answer a phone politely.
  25. Indoor vs. Outdoor Voices: Know when to use indoor vs. outdoor voices.

These lessons are not just about following rules but about fostering a sense of respect, kindness, and empathy in children. By instilling these manners early, you are setting them up for a lifetime of respectful and considerate interactions. And remember, it’s never too late to begin teaching your child good manners.