Teaching Kids Manners - Being Polite & Respectful

parenting May 21, 2020

If you’ve been a parent for any length of time, you’ll encounter situations where your children act in ways you wouldn’t have in your youth. For this reason, teaching kids manners is one of the most pivotal parts of your role as a dad. 

By teaching kids to be polite and show respect, you’ll be laying the foundations for their behavior later on. Over time, your kids will habitually display polite behavior and be easier to get along with — both for you and the other children they socialize with. 

In short, teaching kids to be polite is essential if you want them to develop into the model citizens you’ve envisioned them to be. In this post, Dad University will be giving you a cheat sheet on how to teach kids respect. 

1. Be the Example

The saying “monkey see monkey do” holds true when you’re teaching kids to be polite. 

Kids — especially toddlers — emulate the behavior of the people they’re with often. As a dad, you need to ensure that the things you do are actions you want to see in your kids.

When you exhibit good manners and politeness regularly, your kids will notice your behavior. Over time, your children will see a pattern in how you treat people, and — before you know it — they’ll be copying what you do. 

If you want to easily set the tone for how your kids should behave, start by being the example. It’s like what Gandhi says: “Be the change you want to see.”

2. Have Realistic Expectations

Respect and manners are vital to your children’s social development. However, you should understand that they won’t be perfect every time in social situations. 

Expecting them to exhibit perfect behavior will be like nailing jello to the wall. You need to have realistic expectations for how your kids will behave in places like restaurants and parties if you want to save yourself from frustration. 

Having realistic expectations means that you accept that there will be times when your kids just act up. After all, kids will be kids, and there’s no use asking them to act as though they’re already your age. 

Make politeness and respect your standards, but just know that it will be a while before they live up to those standards perfectly — and that’s okay! 

How long should you wait for them to reach the standards of behavior you’ve set? This brings us to tip number three. 

3. Be Patient

When it comes to cultivating certain habits or behaviors, there’s no set time. This is especially the case when you’re dealing with kids. One critical step to teaching your kids manners is patience. 

There are two ways you can exercise patience. One is to recognize that the development of respectful and well-mannered children takes time. With this in mind, you shouldn’t rush things. 

Another way to be patient is by choosing tolerance over punishment. Punishment addresses negative behaviors at the onset, but it does little to cultivate lasting positive behavioral change. 

When you punish your child, you’re only stopping certain behavior. You’re not enabling them to be well-mannered and respectful for the long haul. 

4. Start Small

We’ll all agree that teaching kids to be polite is key. However, what does it look like for a kid to be polite? You’ll get so many answers, and this is why we recommend that you start with the basics. 

By the basics, we mean simple phrases and gestures. To get more specific, here are some new dad tips for teaching your comprehensive “Manners 101” course.

“Please” and “Thank You”

Kids who say “please” and “thank you” may not seem to be doing much. However, they’re lightyears ahead of other children who haven’t taken these phrases to heart.  

Teaching your kids to say please and thank you is straightforward. You only need to say these words yourself so your children can emulate you. 

Explain to your kids that every request has to start with “please.” If their requests are granted, instruct them to say “thank you.” 

Also, you can demonstrate saying these phrases by exposing your children to situations that require these words. 


What greetings should you teach your kids? 

There are many, and greetings can vary from one culture to the next. However, we recommend the SES pattern. 

  • S: Smile
  • E: Eye contact
  • S: Say hello

“Hello” may also be replaced by other greetings like “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.”

Teaching children the value of acknowledging others’ presence through simple greetings cultivates a habit of warmth and openness. More importantly, teaching basic greetings is crucial to giving your kids the tools they need to create positive first impressions. 

Table Manners

Any discussion on teaching kids manners should include a section on table manners. While we’d need an entire article dedicated to this subject, here are six things to teach your kids when you’re introducing them to table manners: 

  1. Washing their hands and face before they come to the dinner table
  2. Staying seated during dinner with an upright posture
  3. Asking to be excused when they need to use the restroom
  4. Chewing with their mouths closed
  5. Speaking only when they’ve got no food in their mouths
  6. Not complaining about the food

All of these can be taught at home. You can move on to the more complex stuff like the difference between utensils and dress codes later on.  

Teaching Kids Respect and Manners: It’s All About Patience

There’s no shortcut to teaching your kids to be polite and well-mannered. Nevertheless, starting them off with the basics and being patient can go a long way in cultivating positive behavior that will set the tone for their interactions later. 

Implement the tips we’ve shared here and watch your kids become the model citizens you want them to be. Also, if you need a little extra help with teaching respect or communicating with your kids, check out our free resources. 

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