10 Reasons All Children Need Good Manners



You have ignored me, rolled your eyes at me and thrown up your arms in protest as you insist that the world has changed and that manners, etiquette and thank you notes are from a bygone era.  You are young and you are wrong. The way we communicate has transformed and, all the more because of that, gracious behavior, the kind that shows consideration and thoughtfulness towards others is important.

So, put your phones down, close your laptops and for god sake get off snapchat while I offer you a few reminders…

1. Manners suggest gratitude rather than entitlement. The rap on your generation is pretty bad, don’t prove us right. You can still be lazy and undirected, you can live in our basements and forestall adulthood, but if you appear gracious and grateful, much will be forgiven.

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2. Manners are even more important in a world that is neglecting them. Standing out from the crowd is a good thing. Making eye contact, shaking hands, giving proper deference, offering assistance and putting your phone away at the dinner table are still appreciated, if sometimes neglected, habits.

3.  You have seconds to make a good impression. We meet hundreds or thousands of people in our lives though most of those meetings are brief and superficial. A decent haircut, clean face, genuine smile and good manners will all be noticed. Don’t make me remind you to wash your face.

4. Manners still reflect on your family and what your parents and teachers taught you. Don’t make me look bad.

5. Manners may have changed but people haven’t and being appreciated will never, ever go out of style. I have yet to meet a single person of either gender, from any nation, of any age who does not like to be appreciated. You may meet someone who breaks this rule, but until then, remember your manners and thank people.

6. Someday, somewhere you may want something from someone. Manners and proper etiquette are like good will in the bank when you go to make a withdrawal. Wanting something in return is NOT a reason to use good manners, but sometime in life you may need to call on another’s kindness and it will help if you have been polite.

7. A great many adults have done some pretty wonderful things for you. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and teachers have all given of themselves to improve your life. Do not disrespect them by failing to use good manners.

8. In your early childhood you were taught at school to show adults respect, to answer questions either “yes, please” or “no, thank you” and to send handwritten thank-you notes. There is no excuse for forgetting all that your teachers drilled into you.

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9. Manners are even more important in a world where relationships may never involve eye contact. We meet people online or by email every day. They will never see our faces or hear our voices. Our words will need to say who we are; choose them wisely.

10. Manners are something that people will remember about you, even if they don’t remember what they remember. Manners make an impression and while someone may not recall why they thought well of you (or badly, if you have ignored this) it may have been your courtesy. Don’t take a risk, remember what you have been taught.

I have said it a thousand times, I have said it in the face of your pushing back, shouting “I know Mom, stop it.” and I will say it one more time. You can never say thank you too many times.


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  1. Susan Bonifant says

    I liked every succinct, no-nonsense item on your list. But above all, I like your point that manners are on par with class. An appreciative, gracious nature makes a person hard to forget and it’s far less expensive than other things people do to be memorable. What a great piece.

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  2. Charisse Oates says

    AMEN! I Love it. We teach our daughter manners and make her send thank you notes and sign cards, herself. Right now most of her thank you cards are template cards but she is only 8. And while it is NOT fun to write them….we know that it IS fun to get them and it IS nice for the giver to know that you appreciate the things you received.

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  3. says

    I INSIST on manners from my kids. I make them say all the expected P’s and Q’s, and on top of that I make them say “ma’am” and “sir.” I was advised many times growing up that I shouldn’t care what others think. Now that I’m older I know that is bullsh*t advice. It DOES matter what people think of you, because, as this thoughtful post mentions, you might need something from someone one day. And if everyone thinks you’re a callous, aloof douche-wad, no one’s gonna want to do jack-squat for you.

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  4. says

    Year after year I stress over feeling the need to send Xmas gifts or b-day presents to what there is no other term for but ungrateful relatives. If you say something there is the defensive retort, nobody asked for a gift… Which I suppose should settle it. Makes me just nuts how these kids avoid the “thank-you” concept altogether. If one happens to be in front of them, you might get a whimsy yet faux thanks, but that is it. I applaud all of the commenters who teach their children manners – thank you!!!

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    • Sue Shea says

      i wouldn’t bother if you know they are truly ungrateful. for reals. quit wasting your time, money, and energy. use all those precious resources on yourself or a favorite charity.

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  5. suz says

    Every time someone compliments my 3 and 5 year old on their lovely manners, or i hear them use their manners unprompted I am always so thankful for the 1000 times I reminded them to use their manners even if it is so annoying and tiresome prompting them over and over.

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    • Jake Eagleshield says

      With all due respect,dear woman,it is easy to show your children respectful behavior and manners when they are three and four years old. It is when they get to school,and fall under the influence of nasty little rug rats,whose parents could not be bothered that is the problem. I was recently at a shopping mall with my ninety-three year old father.when a kid about 12 came tearing down the concourse,and nearly knocked him down. I expected an “Excuse me sir,I am sorry.” Instead I got ‘Yo old dude get the F out of my way,dumb a–. My first impulse was to throttle the little creep,but instead reported him to mall security,something I should have not had to do.

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  6. Jenelle says

    I fully agree and we are striving hard to instill this in our children (though they are only 5 and 1), they write what they can and “sign” the cards in whatever way they’re capable.

    Soap box time: I REFUSE to engage with people who demand a thank you. The road is a two-way street and if you can’t give a gift for the joy of giving, maybe you shouldn’t be expecting a thank you. Times have changed and as nice (and necessary) as it is to remember our manners, we also need to realize that sometimes others are busy or on a different time-scale than us. If it takes me 3 weeks to get a thank you out (yes sometimes it happens) I don’t want to hear about it before then. Maybe I’m wrong…but I find it extremely rude to be demanding a thank you a week after the exchange.

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    • Rachel says

      Totally agree! I admit that I am guilty of just now sending out thank you notes THIS week for the gifts we received at Christmas. However my mom had already called last week asking if we received the gifts my aunt sent, because she told my mother that “she was wondering if we had received them, since she hadn’t heard back from us”. Happens every year!

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