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Ten Commandments of Courtesy For Kids (and Adults)

Our family loves to have guests, and we hardly ever turn down an invitation when we are invited guests at the home of friends. Because of that, I frequently have the opportunity to remind my children of a few key elements in being courteous to guests and hosts.

Here are Smockity's Ten Commandments of Courtesy for Kids (and Adults):

1. Greet others when you see them for the first time each day.

Responding to "Good morning", "Hi!", or any other greeting in a pleasant tone of voice is courteous. Entering a room and seeing someone for the first time that day and not greeting them or ignoring their greeting is rude.

I explain to my children that the person they neglect to greet after obviously seeing them could think they are mad, snobby, rude, or lazy. Saying, "Hi!" cheerfully, eliminates any misunderstanding.

I also remind them that being shy or tired is no excuse for not greeting someone.

2. Do not make unfavorable comments about food you are served.

Unfavorable comments include, but are not limited to:

  • "WHAT is this stuff???"
  • "This smells funny."
  • "It looks yucky."
  • "Why did you make this again?"
  • "I don't like this."
  • "This doesn't taste good."

You don't have to like the food, just keep that to yourself!

3. Look at the person who is talking to you.

Avoiding eye contact can make the person talking to you feel like you wish you were somewhere else. Look at the speaker's face and respond to their comments or questions pleasantly. Smiling and using complete sentences communicate that you are glad to be talking to them.

Looking around while they are talking makes you seem disinterested in what they are saying and is rude.

4. When in a group, try to face everyone.

Don't turn your back on part of the group. This will make them feel excluded.

5. Don't whisper in someone's ear or hold your hand up to block others from seeing what you say to someone.

This communicates that only certain people are special enough to hear your message. It can also be thought that since you don't want everyone to hear, that you may be saying something unflattering about one of the others.

6. If you see someone is being left out of the conversation or activity, try to include them.

It is nice to try to make everyone in a group feel at ease, if possible. If one person is being left out, try to make a point of asking them a question to get them involved in the conversation.

If the discussion is about Biology, ask them what science they are studying this year or whether they like science or history better.

If one person gets left out of a game of Apples to Apples, offer to let them sit by you and be your "consultant".

7. Thank the person who invited you or served you.

Whether you are a guest in someone's home, or you were invited to go with a group to see a movie, be sure to thank the person who invited you. Let them know you appreciate them thinking of you.

If you were served food or drink, be sure to thank the hostess for her efforts.

8. Do not begin eating until everyone has been served.

It is rude to start chowing down before others have their food. At home or a restaurant, we remind everyone to wait until all are served and the prayer of thanks is said to God before anyone begins eating.

9. Do not leave the table until others are through eating and you are excused.

We expect our children to stay seated at the table after they finish eating, as long as we are there eating and/or talking. If a little one tells us she is finished, we tell her to stay seated and listen to the talk until excused from the table.

10. Help with clean up.

Take your plate to the sink and ask the hostess if there is anything she would like help with. If everyone has left the table or the party, gathering trash or dishes can be a big help.

These are the things we talk with our children often about concerning courtesy and what behaviors are considered rude. What would you add to this list?

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  1. This is beautiful Smockity! Honestly, I think a few of us adults could use these reminders too!

  2. What an awesome list! I remember some of these tips being taught to me by my parents, like not leaving the table to everyone is finished. What a gift you are giving your children as they learn to be individuals who are a joy to know, both now as young ones and in later life.

  3. A child who interrupts adults who are having a conversation! That DRIVES me crazy!! What makes it worse is the adults who ENCOURAGE that behavior by interrupting his or her conversation with another adult to acknowledge the child that is not in a life threatening situation.

    • Amen to the interrupting issue! Truly is something far too many children are not being taught! At the same time, we need to be considerate of our children and not just keep visiting on and on and on. As soon we can make a little break in the conversation, we do well to acknowledge our child. They will learn that we won’t just ignore them and it helps them to be patient, knowing they can soon tell us what they need to.

      • Lois, I agree! You are SO right!! We do need to be courteous to our children as well so they will trust that their turn will come in a timely manner.

    • Completely agree. I have always taught my children to wait for a pause in adult conversation to say “excuse me” and then to wait until they are acknowledged to speak. Even very young children can do this with some extra assistance.

      I had a conversation with someone where in 10 minutes time her child interrupted 4 times and she decided to deal with him without making him wait even while I was still speaking. I was appalled as even my 2yrs old understands she needs to wait for the conversation to turn towards her.

  4. Do you have a print option on your blog somewhere? Thank you for this synopsis. I appreciate your candid, concise manner of instruction.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      I don’t have a print feature. Sorry! I’ll think about how to get that installed, though. Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. This is a great list, Connie. We often say, when a child is doing something rude at the table, “Have you ever seen Grandma do that??” My mom, a very proper lady, sets a great example and it’s good for my kids to have a mental picture in mind of someone who is always mannerly. I’ll be in trouble if my mom ever starts reaching across the table while chewing with food falling out of her mouth. :)

    We do teach kids about not interrupting. If I’m speaking with someone else, they are to place their hand on my leg or arm so I know they’re needing to speak with me.

  6. Take turns talking.

  7. Most children do not learn this as a child so they grow in to a rude adult.

  8. Greetings MyFriendConnie

    Your wonderful little place here gives me a big happy feeling. Too lovely.

    Warm Regards, Valerie

    ! !

  9. Pamela Share says:

    Thank you for those reminders. Very true. We were also taught to always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ It was very much a part of our vocabulary.

  10. I like this list very much!

    Lately I have been perusing mothering blogs, and in particular blogs written by mothers of large families, mothers who homeschool, and Christian moms (those are usually all one in the same person). I am NOT a mother of a large family, one who home schools, and possibly — by some peoples’ definition — not even a Christian. I AM a professional (physician), an educator (teach residents and medical students), a mother to three who go to a wonderful public school, and a person who goes to church now and again and constantly thinks about God, Jesus and what it should mean to be a Christian. I am only soul searching, like so many do, and loving hearing how others raise and teach their children. I take what I find useful — like these lovely rules! — and leave the rest. homeschooling would obviously not work for one already committed to a career outside the home, but I can see how it works well for others. Bravo!

  11. The greatest challenge I see in training children is in how to participate in a conversation, rather than just tell a story that has nothing to do with the current subject. When a child waits patiently for a break in the conversation, but then launches into a story just for the sake of telling it, I tend to think that is the time to teach them that they are simply too young to participate in adult conversation and need to listen quietly or go play. Sadly, many adults don’t have this concept down, and it makes having a conversation with them very awkward. There is a wonderful book called “Princess Academy” that has some excellent lessons in this area.