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A Complete Age Guide to Teaching Children Manners


Teaching your children to be polite can be a difficult task and requires a lot of patience. But, it is a trait that will have long-term benefits. In fact, there are three key areas that manners helps to foster development: setting a standard for good behaviour, boosting self-confidence and appreciation. There are a few ways to ensure your children grow up understanding good manners and the key to this is to provide age-appropriate ways to teach them. To help your children to be polite at all times, consider the methods you are using and how different exercises may help your child depending on their age.


Age 1-2

Your toddler will be going through a lot of learning patterns during this stage of their life, so it’s important not to overwhelm your child with learning activities. Instead, create some fun games to help improve their manners.

  • Using some of their favourite dolls or puppets during playtime pretending they’re saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to your child can help them to understand this is an accepted behaviour. According to child psychologist Richard Gilham, teaching your kids to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ increased their empathy skills.
  • If they happen to burp or make a mess, you can teach them to say ‘excuse me’ or ‘I’m sorry’. It’s important not to make a big deal about the mistakes, as they are still learning at this age, but it is a good time to get started on their manners.
  • As your child finishes their meal, ask them to hand you their plate. It’s a great way to get them started on other actions when they get older such as clearing the table after meals or setting the table beforehand.


Ages 3-6

At this stage, your child is likely to start socialising with other children and getting acquainted with their new teachers. Sharing is the key trait you can teach your child during these years and there are some simple methods to do this.

  • If another child wants to play with a toy your child is playing with, encourage your child to share the toy and vice-versa. By age 5, sharing can be fully understood, but learning to be patient may take a little longer to master.
  • Discourage name-calling and hitting other children, especially if/when other children don’t play nice.
  • Ask them to pick up books, toys or dirty clothes. This can help them to learn to respect their belongings and their home or school.
  • Encourage your child to set and clear the table at mealtimes. However, don’t allow them to handle sharp or dangerous items.
  • When leaving a friend’s house, a party or school, telling your child to say goodbye when leaving will be a great way to boost communication skills and politeness.
  • Paying attention when others are talking and waiting to speak in turn is also a great method.

Remember that reinforcing good manners is also important if your child is in a room full of adults. According to Dr Sears, including your child in conversation teaches them social skills and helps them learn they have self value.


Ages 7-10

By this age, your child is likely to have improved their reading and writing skills and they can start to implement good manners and being polite through writing and other forms of communication.

  • If your child has a birthday or a party, ask them to write some thank you cards for their guests who have attended or left a gift. You can also encourage them to make thank-you cards from scratch to make the activity more enjoyable and they can use their creative side.
  • As you would have taught your child at a younger age to play fair and encourage sharing, extend from these lessons as they get older. Make sure you child is fair to other children, especially younger children at school or their siblings.
  • Part of learning about being a good sport is understanding good sportsmanship and teamwork. Find a team activity your child will thrive in to get started with outside of school as an extracurricular activity.


Ages 11-18

These years can often be tough times for a parent as children often go through a lot of changes. One of the key factors to continue to encourage throughout these years is to respect elders and others around them.

  • Mutual respect is important. If you want your child to listen to you, ensure that you’re listening to them. As your child goes through their teen years, making sure you let them know you’re there to listen to them if ever they need to talk will help them to be more mindful to listen to others.
  • Your child may start to have appointments. Whether it’s a function, a job interview or perhaps their school day, ensuring they arrive on time is a sign of respect. Helping them to get there on time can be a huge help to them.

Good manners at all ages are important for your child in order to live a successful life into adulthood. By starting at a young age, manners can be taught over time to help your child to learn how to be respectful of others, be polite and get along well with others.


About the writer: Gwen Mackey is passionate about learning development, technology and family dynamics. A full-time mum of 4, Gwen uses her writing to pass on her knowledge with other parents to help guide them through the sometimes turbulent, but always rewarding life of family. You can follow her on Twitter to learn more.


I love my family, building successful ventures and helping others achieve their dream motherhood. This blog combines those three loves.

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