Teaching Social Graces: Etiquette Boot Camp at Home


Like so many parents, I’ve found myself thrust into a role I did not ask for. Not only am I “mom”, but I’m the primary teacher of six children (thanks to remote learning!). As each day unfolds I focus on academics and social development. Whether distance learning or in public school, children should always be learning. However, basic etiquette and social graces are important life skills that aren’t always being taught in school.

This makes me wonder: why don’t more parents teach social graces at home?

Teaching social graces in my family began with an argument over a tablet. 

It was during this disagreement that I realized my otherwise polite children were lacking an understanding of etiquette. The disconnect went well beyond normal sibling bickering. The reason why is simple: no one had taught them otherwise.


In my house, the rules of simple manners and social graces apply to even my youngest child. In an age of cyber bullying, it’s crucial children know how to treat each other online. This should also include regular conversations about online safety. Anyone old enough to send messages should always double check them before hitting send. 


Speaking of introductions, does your child introduce themselves? Do they know how to shake hands in a solid and respectful way? Do they know the headphones come off and the electronics stop immediately? Mine didn’t until I taught them. A strong handshake and eye contact are the a first leadership skills all children should learn. 

Situational Behavior – Read the Room!

Situational behavior challenges can sneak up and make parenting through challenging events difficult. Does your child understand that a church service requires a quiet and calm demeanor? Or do they understand that navigating a busy subway station is cause to be alert and attentive? I never pass judgement on other families because I’ve been there. Maybe your child struggles to sit politely in a restaurant? Teaching your child to read a situation and behave accordingly is a tremendous life skill.

Table Manners

Practicing good manners is not just the act of chewing with your mouth closed. Meal time is the prefect time to teach tolerance, patience, and good body control. We have a checklist at our house to help!

When selfies are not okay

We all love to share our lives. Nonetheless photos with members of law enforcement, accidents, or impromptu selfies can be both disrespectful and inappropriate. This includes being aware of our body privacy and the privacy of others. Kids should know when to use a camera respectfully, and how to ask permission to take a photo of another. 

The Ability to Converse

Is your child a conversationalist? Coaching your child as to how they can carry on a conversation is a life skill they may not learn in school. This includes eye contact, good posture, and a listening ear.

Being a Good Guest

Instilling the importance of being polite is especially important for school-aged kiddos. Do they offer to help, and clean up after themselves? Being a guest gives lays the groundwork for self control and regulation. 

Social graces aren’t just for adults. These basic boundaries of the human experience start at home. Teaching social graces to children is a wonderful opportunity to prepare your child for the world. 


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