How Rude…Ten Basic Courtesies for Children

Warning! Begin rant:

I’m angry.  And you know what?  That’s rare for me.

So, what has me all upset?  The fact that common manners aren’t so common anymore.

It feels like as though those of us with manners are swimming upstream, in a river of rudeness.

Though my kids are still small, they will quickly grow into adults. Basic manners are are a foundation and are taught over time.

At the risk of sounding incredibly old fashioned, here are the top ten courtesies that we are teaching Katie (and will teach Matthew as he grows):

  1. Always say please, thank you, and you’re welcome.
  2. When someone is speaking to you, make eye contact and acknowledge that you are being spoken to.
  3. When someone sneezes, acknowledge it.  We say, bless you, but you could also say gesundheit or salud, which mean good health.
  4. When a guest comes to our home, greet them properly.  (A simple hi will suffice while they’re still little.)
  5. When someone compliments you, accept the compliment by saying thank you.  Don’t negate the compliment in any way.
  6. Hold the door for others.  Never let the door close in someone else’s face.  When the door is held for you, don’t just walk through it– thank the person who held it.
  7. When waiting to get on an elevator, always allow those who are already on to exit before you enter.  This holds true for entering a building as well.
  8. When walking down a hallway, corridor, or sidewalk, don’t walk in a group that blocks others.  Also, don’t stop and converse—step to the side to allow others to pass easily.
  9. Respect others.  You may not always agree with their ideas, but you can disagree respectfully.
  10. Have a general awareness of others.  If you bump into someone, apologize.  If they drop something, pick it up for them.  If someone in a car stops to let you cross the street, wave to them in thanks.

There are many other manners that they will need to learn, as they grow older, but these are a start.

Solid manners are a tool for our children to take out into the world.

It doesn’t take that much longer to be polite.  Basic manners make life more pleasant.  And what a better world it is when we practice basic courtesy.

I refuse to give up. I will keep reminding myself of Mahatma Gandhi’s words: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

End rant.

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52 responses to “How Rude…Ten Basic Courtesies for Children

  1. Amen! We teach our kids all these manners too! I would add the difference between indoor and outdoor voices and the polite way to ask a question – i.e. do not interrupt or grab somebody’s arm or just yell it out!

    Love the 31DBBB!

  2. Hear, hear!!! I hate rude people! I’ve had people get out of an elevator, take forever and not hold the door. Therefore, it shut and we had to wait again until it came back to us.

    I’ve seen a lady yell at a girl for bumping into her. When the girl said “sorry” the lady screamed “you better be sorry!”

    And ignoring kids??? Horrible! How are they going to grow up with manners if we don’t teach them how to behave? They are people too.

    Great list!!

    • Yes, kids are people too. And if I teach my children proper manners, then I can expect others to treat them with that same respect.
      Is it that people are no longer taught manners or that they choose not to use them?
      Thanks for coming by!

  3. I could not agree more with those! Especially, well actually all of them, but the one that irks me is drivers/passengers or even drivers/drivers. What happened to the courtesy wave? If you want over and I obviously slow down to let you in a simple wave would be nice. Just acknowledge the small things, that makes me happy!
    And since I’m being completely honest. I could use a little work on number 5 myself, thanks for the reminder!

    • Yes! That makes me crazy too!
      Seriously, how hard is it to wave in gratitude?
      And number five? Well, that’s the toughest one for me too. But I feel that if someone is kind enough to compliment me, I should respect their opinion and maybe even try to internalize their compliment a bit. 😉

  4. Ok these are great! Do you have any suggestions on when little ones are SO shy that they won’t even look at people? My BF’s six year old daughter literally turns her body away and hides when people come to the house… she 100% ignores people… We don’t know why or what to do about it!

    • Kendra,
      I’ve had a lot of trouble with one of my kids in this area. Some just have a harder time than others. But they still need to learn…one thing that has helped us is practicing and acting things out at home. Her Dad and I will talk to her about how it is important to say hello to people and then we will take turns pretending to meet her for the first time, asking her questions, having her say hi, and so on. It helps, but it is still a slow process.
      Hope that helps,

    • I think that you have to start when they’re really young. Our daughter is reserved. We don’t allow her to be called shy, because I believe that when you start labeling a child as shy, then it almost offers them a free pass. Do you know what I mean? If I make excuses for her, blaming her behavior on being shy, then am I in fact, encouraging/allowing that behavior?

      But common courtesy is not optional.

      Perhaps in the case of your BF’s daughter, you could start in really small doses and build her confidence a bit?

  5. This crotchety old curmudgeon thanks you! We teach the same things, except we kind of flip number 3 around. Not so much a sticklers for the “Bless you”, but emphasize saying excuse me when YOU sneeze and making sure you do it in your sleeve.

    • Yes, sneezing/coughing into the sleeve is the best practice. I have a friend who taught her little boy to sneeze into his elbow, calling it his bat wing (he was very into Batman).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting, you charming crumudgeon.

  6. So glad you wrote this post! This is so true! There are so many rude people. I pride myself in teaching manners to my boys. And I am so proud of both of them – especially my Riley – he is such a little gentleman!

    • My husband is such a gentleman…his mother taught him well.

      And you should be proud of yourself. Your son isn’t a gentleman by accident.

      Thanks for coming by!

  7. I do not have children, however I couldn’t agree with you more. There is a serious lack of manners rising in today’s society. I mean they really aren’t that hard to remember. And if it isn’t instilled in them when they are young, then what are we headed for???? OY!

    • I think that you’re exactly right…it isn’t that people don’t remember their manners, but more likely that they were never taught them in the first place.

      I’m hoping to make a dent in the rudeness by raising polite kids. Cross your fingers for us!

      I appreciate you coming by and leaving a comment. 🙂

  8. Such simple concepts, but rarely seen in kids these days. My children (at only 3 and 5) can and will do most of these things. It’s a shame that older children that should know better can’t remember their manners.

    Great post.

    • You know how they say the best time to learn a language is when you are really small, when your brain is still making tons of connections?

      That seems to me like the best time to teach manners. Best not to wait till children are older to try to instill in them some courtesy.

      With polite kids at 3 and 5, you are off to an amazing start. 🙂

      Thanks for coming by!

  9. Great list!! I would love to see this list go viral and common sense to become common again!

  10. Excellent! Great post. It is so important to teach kids good manners. 🙂

  11. i love it. my parents made manners a priority and i plan to do the same for my future children. next you need to make a top ten table manners to teach children. my husband was never taught table manners as a child, so those are going to be a battle for us. chew with your mouth closed, elbows off the table, don’t talk with your mouth full… teach your children well, people.

    • Table manners…excellent idea! I’m putting that on my to do list.
      Manners are a tool that are used throughout life. Parents who don’t teach their children the basics do them a tremendous disservice.
      Children do learn by example, so as long as you emulate those behaviors that you want to see, you’ll be okay.
      Thanks for popping over. 🙂

  12. To all of these rules?

    Just YES.

    Yes, please.

    Lovely. As usual.

    • Thank you. A compliment from you makes my ego swell. In a polite way, of course. 😉
      How did I know that you’d hold these same values?
      Love you. Lots.

  13. Hi,
    I’m visiting from the SITSgirl challenge. I love your list.
    We are striving to teach these things to our kids too. It certainly takes some effort – but it is well worth it.
    Now I also need to teach them that people don’t always have manners! My son used to keep saying “thank-you” until he got a “You’re Welcome.” He doesn’t do that so much anymore 🙂
    Glad to have found your blog.

    • Your comment made me laugh because my husband does that same thing, only intentionally. Sometimes, he’ll do that until he gets a reaction and although technically, he’s being rude, it is so nice to see that he forces the other person to wake up and see what’s going on.
      Not funny, but so funny at the same time.
      Good for your son. 😉

  14. Jen

    I’ve taught these to my kids and am always amazed that other children don’t know some of the very basic of manners. I would add not interrupting someone when they are talking or if they must to say excuse me or pardon me.

    • Yes, not interrupting should be on this list.
      This is the area in which I am the weakest and I am constantly reminding myself not to interrupt others.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. 🙂

  15. Bad Mummy

    Living in an urban centre, can I add: Do not stand in front of the bus/streetcar/subway doors if you are not exiting at that very stop. I hate missing my stop because someone has propped themselves in front of the doors and doesn’t move when I go to exit and by the time I determine that they are not, in fact, getting off at that stop, the doors have closed again and don’t stop for another six blocks, forcing me to backtrack – in winter – with a grumpy 3 yr old.

    Oh, lord. The elevator dance. Every damn day. At least twice. I knew I was right I was bothered by the fact that a number of teenagers filed into a store while I was trying to exit said store. Couldn’t remember the courtesy rule on that, but of course it’s the same as the elevator.

    • The bus/streetcar/subway thing would drive me mad. I struggle the most in busy places, as it seems that I’m bombarded with rudeness. There are times when it takes all I have not to be rude as a reaction to the rudeness of others. UGH!
      There’s little worse than trying to get off an elevator, but being blocked by those trying to get on. It makes absolutely no sense and you’d think that they’d realize that it is their best interests to allow me to exit.
      I could rant all night. 😉

  16. I agree 100% and have taught/am still teaching my children all the same rules. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the norm anymore. Nice post.

  17. Peggy

    #6 ! Why does it seem like only in Maine do people/strangers hold the door for you.
    My girls both noticed it when they lived in Utah, and complained to me that no one held doors, they all just let them shut in your face.
    And when we were in CA, I held the door at the UPS store, and whole group of young men poured into the store. They never so much as acknowledged that I was standing there like a doorman. grrrr.

    I have no doubt that your kids will be raised to be polite and courteous. Katie already is!

    • The door thing kills me. Today, I had Matthew in his carrier in one hand and Katie’s backpack in the other and I managed to hold the door with my foot for an approaching person, who just walked past me, no thank you, no nod, nothing! Seriously? I was irrate.
      I often tell Craig that in Maine, people are more courteous.
      And Katie? Well, she is doing so great with her manners. I love when we are leaving a restaurant and she thanks us for her meal. At times like that, I feel that we must be doing something right.

  18. This was the most polite rant ever! You have great manners! 🙂

    Seriously? I love this! I am a HUGE fighter for the manners! I even try to teach them to my high school students who clearly was never taught them at home. The only one they know is “bless you” because then they get to talk during a test. sigh….

  19. Yes, yes and yes.

    I suppose I should have said that 10 times.

    Sometimes the absences simply stun me.

    • There are times when I am so shocked by rude behavior that I must look completely crazy, standing frozen with an incredulous look on my face.
      I’m old enough that things shouldn’t shock me anymore, but they do. Geesh.

  20. This is a wonderfully TRUTHFUL post. What ever happened to teaching your children manners? Love it! You and this post are full of that awesome sauce!

  21. Could not agree more! My children are 10 & 6 and they have been drilled on this since they were tiny.
    Nothing irritates me more than kids that don’t have manners and parents that don’t care. Ugh, good for you!
    Stopping by for the #31DBBB Challenge

    • It’s the parents who don’t care that make me crazy. If they are okay living with rude children, that’s one thing, but those children also have to go out in the world, where they inflict their lack of manners on the rest of us.
      I always feel bad for the kids, as they haven’t been taught the most basic of social skills. So sad.

  22. Very true! I’m printing this out for MY kids to read over breakfast!!

  23. Amen! There are way too many rude people in this world and I love that you use Ghandi’s quote…one of my favorites. It’s not enough to complain about what we don’t like. We have to be willing to make changes and begin and participate in the movement.

  24. Good list. Kids learn from us and what we do as well.

    BTW-you might want to link up your post-since the kindness club prompt this past week was holding a door open for someone.

    You would probably also enjoy the weekly kindness prompts on Tuesday. (Yesterday’s weekly prompt was doing something nice for a neighbor)

  25. SO. GOOD. I wish I would have thought of it. It is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine too. I am trying to hard to raise polite kids… it’s an uphill battle. Hardly any of my kids’ friends have any manners. EXCELLENT job on this post. I say: AMEN!

  26. Pingback: Pull Up a Chair…Fifteen Basic Table Manners for Children « in these small moments

  27. Um, how did I miss this one?! Rudeness is totally a pet peeve of mine. And honestly? It bugs me more when senior citizens are rude…because I know they were raised in a generation that knows better.

    My son is very good with the please/thank you/you’re welcome thing. We have always set that example from the beginning. And really, if you don’t *set* the example, kids won’t really do it. Manners aren’t a “do as I say” kind of thing.

    Also? I have gotten a little snarky with people who don’t acknowledge politeness (e.g. holding the door). I’ve loudly said “you’re welcome!” to oblivious people who just barge by the held-open door. I’ve also said “excuse you!” to people who cut in front of me, ram into my child, etc. It may be bitchy, but I don’t deal well with oblivious rudeness.

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