Modern Summer Manners for Kids

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School may be out for the summer, but our kiddos can continue learning important lessons and life skills while they’re enjoying their vacation. With so much free time, parents may notice good manners need a refresher.

1. Keep the Dirt Outdoors: When coming back indoors from sunny adventures in the backyard, wipe shoes on the door mat, and leave crawly critter and mudpies outside. Parents, let kids know which toys are okay for inside, and which ones stay in the sandbox.

2. Magic Words: Remember to say please when asking, and thank you to whoever helps. Parents, model this behavior by using please and thanks when speaking with each other and others.

3. Playing Politely: Whether they’re battling dragons in the backyard, or building a spaceship from cardboard boxes, remind kiddos to take turns, share, and speak with kindness when playing with other children. When hosting playmates, have a few extra toys in the room so that no one’s left without something to do.

4. Keeping Covered: Summer temperatures are boiling, and children may be tempted to remove clothing to stay cool. Nevertheless, teach them that unless they’re at an informal gathering such as a pool party, shirt, shorts and shoes must stay on!

5. Take Turns Talking: While some kids may jump into conversation with stories of outdoor adventures or a question, remind them that interrupting is impolite. Encourage waiting until it’s their turn to speak.

6. Gracious Guests: Teach kids to be polite, gracious guests from the moment they knock on the door, until they say goodbye. Remind them that two to three knocks is appropriate when visiting someone’s home, to greet hosts politely, and to wait for permission before playing or eating.

7. Impatient Eaters: From swimming in the pool to exploring neighborhood parks, kids often build up a big summer appetite. Although they may be ready to dig into dinner immediately, remind them to wait until everyone has been served before starting. This shows self-respect, and is a lifelong mannerly skill.

8. Adventurous Eaters: From brussels sprouts to sea bass, some food is pushed to the plate edge no matter what parents say. Encourage kids to try new foods, and experience the challenge simultaneously so that they observe you enjoying the dish.

9. Ask Permission: It’s easy for children to use their imagination and pretend the bookshelves are a mighty mountain to climb, or construct a blanket castle in the middle of the July 4th party. Before they jump into a big project, teach them to ask permission to use a living area for their next adventure.

10. Stay Safe: Teach kids to follow a trusted adult’s instructions, and to ask before leaving the play space. Basic rules such as not playing in the street, staying in a yard safe zone, and using a buddy system help make summer safe and sound.

By Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide (www.protocolww.com)