skip navigation
Building Blocks For a Healthy Future Home About Us Links Get Updates Awards
Family Educators Materials
Send this page to a friend E-Mail   |   Print this page Print   |   Subscribe RSS Feed
Animal Characters
spacer Family photosFamily photos

Family Activities
Teaching Children Manners

Related Content

If you help young children learn polite and caring behavior, they will continue to use good manners and become more socially aware as they get older. It’s easier to nurture good child behavior if you work as a family to set the rules for good manners in many different situations.

Manners for Kids

For very young children, make sure to stress only one or two rules for any situation. Once these rules are mastered, add more rules or add a new situation. For example: good table manners may start with using the right utensil and never speaking with your mouth full. Then, add asking to be excused from the table, etc. Once children have mastered these manners, add more rules or add new situations.

A good way to set the rules for any situation is to have children consider what is the polite action or statement and when and where they should do or say it.

Here are a few guiding questions to help set family rules for…

Receiving Gifts

  • What should you say when someone gives you a gift—even before you open it?
  • What do you do if you don’t like the gift?
  • How can you tell someone “thank you” if they’re not with you when you open the gift?

Make learning manners fun.
Wrap up different items, making sure some are outrageous. Take on the roles of givers and receivers and role play the rules for receiving gifts—what to say and what to do.

Table Manners

  • How should you eat?
  • What can you do or say if you can’t reach the food on the table?
  • What can you do or say if you don’t like something you’re served?

Make learning manners fun.
Set up a family “party” dinner, using special dinnerware, tablecloths, or candles. Make a point of being extra polite and your children will follow your lead to practice their rules for good table manners.

Meeting New People

  • What do you say when you are introduced to an adult?
  • What do you do?

Make learning manners fun.
Role play different introductions with your children to help them learn how to shake hands and make eye contact as they smile, say “hello,” and pronounce their names clearly.

Telephone Manners

  • What do you say when you answer the phone?
  • How do you get the right adult to the phone?

Make learning manners fun.
Use play phones to role play telephone calls. Help children practice speaking slowly and clearly. Help them learn to ask, “Who is calling, please?” and know how to go to get the right person rather than yell through the house.

Book Note: Manners by Aliki (HarperTrophy, May 23, 1997)

Manners is a cheerful, colorful, and comical look at how to be a polite child and why you should be a polite child. Aliki addresses so many different subjects; your family can have great conversations about manners and rules of politeness and caring in different situations.

spacer Site Map | Contact Us | FAQ | Ask SAMHSA | Accessibility | Privacy | Disclaimer | Viewers & Players | FOIA | Plain Language
SAMHSA Logo   HHS Logo
Updated on 4/5/2013