3 Secrets to Raising Polite Children

Having polite children doesn’t really happen by chance – here are three “secrets” on how to raise polite children

Both Forrest and I have always felt strongly about teaching your children manners and respect for others.

Sometimes we probably come across as a little strict, but I think that being polite is one of the best things a person can be.

While we certainly aren’t perfect – and neither are our children – I am proud of Jack for being a generally polite and respectful child. Oliver is still quite young, but I’m hopeful that he’ll follow in his brother’s suit.

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There are certainly children who are born without a rude bone in their body, but I believe that most principals of politeness must be learned. It’s something that you can encourage from a young age, and I believe it’s crucial to do so.

I’m obviously not an expert, but I thought I’d share three keys to polite children – from my own experience and what I’ve observed from others.

Thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for sponsoring this post. 

Model It

I think this is one of the most important things you can do.

If you want your child to be polite, they need to see that behavior in their everyday life. When I think about the most well-behaved and polite children I know, when I look to their parents, they act very similar.

That’s not to say that if you have the most rude child on the planet, that you are, in turn, the most rude parent on the planet.

I believe that by saying “Please” and “Thank you” around your child, and, more specifically, to your child, it can make a difference.

I’ve found that Jack mimics a lot of what Forrest and I do/say (for good and bad), and I know that when I make a conscious effort to be polite to him, he often acts the same way back.

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Take a moment to look at yourself and decide whether the way you treat your children and others is the behavior you want your child to emulate. Because how many of us, as we get older, find ourselves saying, “Wow, I’m turning into my parents.”?

It happens – make sure you are being the type of person you’d want your child to be like.

Teach It

You can’t just expect your child to know when to say please, thank you, excuse me, etc. You need to make sure you teach them at appropriate times.

This can be as simple as saying, “What do you say?” when your child asks for something. With Jack, he’s gotten to the point where we simply just look at him, or say, “Jack?” and he will instantly remember that he’s supposed to say Please or Thank You.

You can teach through song, through books, and, as mentioned earlier, by example. For us, I actually feel like praying with our children has helped to teach them to say thank you and please.

We recently were sent a copy of the book “Give Please a Chance”,  which is a delightful book written bys Bill O’Reilly and James Patterson. It had simple pages with different scenarios where one might say “Please.”

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It’s also beautifully illustrated by 17 different illustrators, so every page is unique.

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I love that it showed different times where you may not realize Please would be appropriate…which in turn shows that being polite is always appropriate.

Jack loved reading it with us, and he actually memorized it quite quickly. He even said, “Mommy, can I please read this book to you?”

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Expect It

Train up a child in the way he should go: when he is old, he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

Expecting your children to behave a certain way – and lovingly letting know – is important.

Forrest and I often talk about how we were raised to know right from wrong.

There was a certain standard of behavior – whether we were at home, school, or someone else’s house – we knew how we were expected to act.

I truly believe that children – no matter the age – want to please their parents. It may not seem that way when you have defiant teenagers, but even in the midst of that, I still believe most children seek their parent’s approval.

If you expect your children to be polite and respectful, I truly believe they will be (in most instances).  No child is perfect, and there will be plenty of times where they’ll forget their manners, but as the Proverbs verse I mentioned above describes, if you teach it, they will remember it.


Manners for Kids / Social Skills / How to Raise Polite Children / Parenting Tips for Toddlers / Discipline / For Boys / For Girls

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156 Comments

  • We try to teach our son manners in multiple languages. Right now, we’re working on English and ASL, but I hope to teach my children basic manners in many languages. 🙂

  • These are great tips, and I totally agree! I always make sure my kids say thank you when people give them things or hold doors open for us. And they do it on their own most of the time! We’ll have to check out that book. I bet my kids would love it!

  • I am not a perfect example to my kids unfortunately. 🙁 I need to respect them more, and they’ll respect me more in return.

    One simple thing we do if a child doesn’t say something politely when making a request, we say to them “Let’s try that again.” It works really well! They can take a second, reflect, and ask a little nicer. 🙂

    • It can be hard! I am definitely not perfect either. I have been catching myself more when I say something in a less than polite way and trying to correct myself. It’s hard!

      I love that idea though. I think it’s a great way to help them evaluate the situation and decide what would be appropriate, rather than just being told what they need to say.

  • We are definitely constantly reminding our 4 year old. He seems to be more polite with people than when we are around….at least that’s what we were told.

    We have read books about being polite and saying please and thank you. My husband aND I are trying to say it more to each other to be role models but it is definitely hard.

  • Oh we really try to show them by being polite ourselves. I always remind him when he forgets his please and thank yous…..

  • I’m having such a time getting my toddler to say please and thank you, even though we’ve been working on it for 1.5 years! Maybe a book might help…!

  • I work at an alternative high school and I try to teach the students manners by being polite to them…I always say good morning and good afternoon and I like to refer to them as mr. or ms. and then their first name.

  • I lead my children by example, by saying please and thank you when I ask them to do something, and showing respect to those around us.I try to also point out the good things I see them do, like “I really like that you shared your toy with your brother.” instead of just pointing out when they forget their manners.

  • I don’t have children but lots of nieces and nephews and I make sure that if the don’t say please or thank you I remind them to.

  • I always remind the importance of please and thank you. I try to teach them that you have to treat others how you want to be treated and that respect is earned

  • We teach by example. If our daughter forgets to say please or thank you…we will say…”and how do you ask nicely?” We are teaching her the importance of being respectful.

  • me and my husband teach them to say please and thank you all the time. we also have them treat people like they want to be treated. so far so good its been working! they are great with their manners!

  • I typically remind the children around me to say please when they ask for something and to say thank you whenever they receive something. It’s important to express gratitude for the things you receive because in life, you don’t always get what you want so be grateful for what you have.

  • Polite is also culturally and regionally subjective. So, it’s also worth discussing some of those points as children get older.

    For example, I moved to South Carolina when I was 10–and I was sent to the office for omitting “ma’am” when I responded to a teacher. It sincerely had no idea that I was supposed to say “yes, ma’am”.
    Where other regions, when I would visit extended family–I would get in trouble for saying “ma’am” because they felt it was a term reserved for older people.

  • I teach the kids who come to my library to say please when they ask for a computer pass. It’s all about respect. Thanks for sharing your tips! kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you! Merry Christmas!

  • I think we mainly teach by showing our child how to act in different situations. I don’t like when parents continually remind their children to say please and thank you.

  • I definitely think persistence and consistency is key and something I struggle with but work on a lot! I read a great article about kids sittings still in church and the mom pointed out that it didn’t happen over night – it was the result of a lot of effort to teach them that skill over a period of time.

  • We model good manners and reinforce them any time our daughter asks and receives something. Please and thank you were some of her first signs and now she is verbalizing and signing them!

  • We have been teaching my son to say please and thank you since he could first talk. Many adults are often surprised at his politeness. I think the best way we could teach him was really to show him. He sees me using polite words and he has picked it up.

    • People often act surprised at my son’s politeness as well – it seems a little sad that it’s become less commonplace than it should be!

  • I try to teach our kids by example. Being polite to others and also using the same polite language when talking to the kids.

  • I teach them by setting a good example and by gently correcting them when they do not show good manners. It also helps to explain why manners are important so that they know the rules aren’t just arbitrary.

  • I believe children are best taught by being shown. If parents role model good manners to their children then this is the best way to teach them.

  • We always say please and thank you. We correct our daughter when she does not use her polite words.

    We have twins, one with autism. So he does not talk. We teach our daughter to be patient and loving with him when he is having a rough day. She is very sweet and talks to him all of the time. She understands that he doesnt talk yet, since he is delayed and she is very kind/loving/sweet to him.
    Leading by example is the biggest part of it!

    Having a loving, serving, helpful attitude towards my husband, and vice versa, it has shown our kids love.

  • I agree being a good model when it comes to teaching a child manners is so important. You can’t expect your child to have manners if you don’t use them either.

  • Parents are the primary role model for their kids, and kids will tend to imitate the actions of their parents. I try to be a good exampl,[email protected], always being courteous to people, and I hope my kids learn from that/

  • My bestie started all of her kids out with manners before they could even speak. She taught them sign language to use for thanking people and for asking politely for what they wanted. It worked wonders when they started speaking and transitioning them to simply asking please and thank you. Which really goes a long way! Right now I simply lead by example but when our first is old enough to learn manners, I will take after what my friend did because she has some wonderful children. 🙂

  • I’m a children’s librarian and we not only model, in collaboration with parents/caregivers, we also have a book series that is readily available for families. In addition. we offer a 6 week series of story times for our preschool families highlighting different areas like kindness and sharing. We hope this either lays the foundation for or reinforces manners for kids and families.

  • I try to teach my kids about manners from a young age. I also try to correct any bad manners as I see them and explain why they should have good manners.

  • Beauitfully written. I agree most especialy with number 1. It is the most important. Kids act like how they see. What they hear.
    I try every day to be a better mon. Its hard sometimes. But its worth every moment I put in.

  • I think the best way to raise polite children is to be a good role model, not just with the adults in your like, but being polite to the kids themselves!

  • We definitely show by example. We always say “please” and “thank you” – even if it’s for little things like taking out the trash or handing us something.

  • I teach my kids through example and reminder! If I use my manners with them they are much more likely to use theirs, too!

  • It sort of comes second nature to me. I do what my mom did and speak up when I notice something that needs adjusting. Thanks so much for the chances to win.

  • I agree that children need to learn manners. Saying please and thank you are very important, as well as, showing respect for adults and parents.

  • I believe children learn thru example so My husband and I always try to make sure we are polite and remind our children to say thank you etc when it is time to say it and it works well

  • My husband and I have taught our 8 year old about manners ever since she learned how to talk good. She knows to say yes mam or yes sir to grown ups and if she doesnt want something, she knows to say no thank you. Her dad is disabled, so she knows its not polite to stare and point at people with disabilities also. We have taught her that everyone is special and deserves to be treated with respect.

  • My kids learn by example. My husband and I always use our manners in front of them because we know they are watching us.

  • Raising little humans is tough! I’m constantly reminding them to say please. Especially when talking to eachother. I know I could also use the reminder from time to time.

  • I tend to be a lead by example sort of person, as that is how my mother taught me. I do it and expect those around me to do it, too. My mom would call me out and make me do it, when I was a kid. Now, it is just a part of who I am, to be polite.

  • Always remind them to say please and thank you. They don’t need a lot of reminding any more but it’s the little things, small acts of kindness and setting a good example for them.

  • I teach my kids (as well as my nieces and nephews) manners by when the occasion presents itself – I always tell them what do you say – whether it be please, thank you and your welcome. I also emphasis that you have to show respect to others for them to get respect in return.

  • I teach my kids good manners by setting a good example. I also encourage them to empathize and not be judgemental of others. My kids have always been fairly well mannered.

  • I do not let them have what ever they want unless they say please, then after they get it I make them say thank you before I let it go.

  • I try to always point it out to them and lead by example. My husband an I show each other respect and towards our children as well, and in turn they show the world!

  • I try to teach my children good manners by modeling what I think appropriate behavior is – children are going to look at how you act, not how you tell them to act.

  • I teach my son about being polite and respectful by doing those things myself, and by prompting with reminders in situations where a “thank you” or a “please” or polite question is needed. Also, I try to prompt my son IN ADVANCE of the situation, instead of right when the “thank you” or “please” should happen to help build a pattern of him thinking about it instead of responding to a parent demand in the moment and just parroting back what I want him to say.

  • We practice with our kids when we are in social situations, like at the grocery store. We teach them to say please and thank you and we give them positive reinforcement.

  • Children learn from what they see so family and friends are role models and certain tv programs are off limits even though the program says it is G rated.

  • I teach them by example. And let them know the importance of manners. And they do not get what the yare wanting unless they say please first.

  • I teach my kids to say please and thank you and excuse me. It can be hard to get my three year old to understand right now but he is getting the hang of it!

  • I teach our kids about manners by being respectful of them. I say please and thank you to them so I give them an example in myself.

  • It started when my children were young…we taught ‘polite words’ when they were learning to speak. We encouraged them to be kind to each other & to others. We let them know what was ‘not acceptable’ behavior, and showed them better, more polite ways to approach situations. Now I see that my cousin is taking the same approach with her little one!

  • I’ve always been a fan of the words “Please & Thank You”. I still correct my teenagers to always be polite & say these words.

  • we teach our daughters about manners by modeling it for them. we also have discussions about things we see when we leave our house. we also enjoy reading books about manners. we teach our daughters that having good manners and using them is one way to show kindness and respect toward others.

  • Both of my boys are polite and respectful.. please and thank you.. yes/no ma’am/sir.. hold open doors… And I think they learned by us constantly reminding them and by example. Very proud of them!

  • We teach our children good manners by showing them the proper way to act in different situations and making sure they follow the ways

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