I live in the south, and down here, manners are important. We say “yes ma’am” and “no sir,” and are taught to respect our elders. When people visit and ask me why everyone here is so nice, it makes me feel proud to be part of such a polite community. But not everyone learns good manners. It’s really frustrating to be around people who are rude and inconsiderate, and I refuse to let my children grow up and be like that. That’s why I’m going to teach them basic manners, and hope that they practice them regularly throughout their lives. While there are lots of manners worth teaching, these 9 are definitely non-negotiable in my home.

1. Say “Please” And “Thank You”

Using these two words is probably the most important manner one could ever learn. It’s basic decency to politely request something, and to vocalize appreciation after being given something. Whenever my son makes a request without saying “please,” I ask him to repeat himself, and he knows why. He then asks again the polite way and usually receives what he’s asking for. I also make sure that he thanks people who offer him something, whether he asked for it or not. If you teach your children these two simple words as soon as they are able to understand them, they will be ingrained in your children’s minds for all time.

2. Clean Up After Yourself

This is one thing I wish I could teach my husband to do! My children are still really young, so the idea has not completely resonated with them yet. However, I do small things each day to emphasize the importance of cleaning up after yourself. When my son finishes a snack, I tell him to throw the wrapper away. If he dumps out a box of toys, I explain that he needs to clean them up when he’s finished. When we change his clothes, he’s starting to understand that they go in the hamper. This one takes a bit of training, but once your kids get the hang of it, you’ll notice a cleaner home and children who are less messy.

3. Don’t Interrupt

We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. And in many relationships, we fail to recognize this. That’s why it’s good to explain to children that when someone is speaking, we should allow them to finish before we respond. Many times when I’m talking to someone, whether in person or on the phone, my little guy will yell, “Mom! Mom! Mom!” about 12 times before I finally ask him to please wait until I’m finished. I try to emphasize that I really want to hear what he has to say, so it’s best that he wait until he has my full attention.

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