Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Ah, if only kids were born with good manners...i think I would be a lot less tired. When Brooke turned 3 I really started working with her on certain manners I felt were pivotal in life. Now that I reflect back on it , I should have started much earlier--like 12 months! Sure, I have always encouraged her to say "please" and "thank you" at a young age, but there was definitely more I could have been doing.

To me, manners, etiquette and overall people skills can take you a long way in life. In fact, being "book smart" and having a high IQ score doesn't necessarily ensure success in life. We all can think of someone that we knew who was extremely book smart but couldn't carry on a decent conversation to save their lives. These people flock to UC Berkeley, by the way--just talkin' from experience! :-)

It's never too early to start teaching good etiquette. The following five etiquette items are what I feel are the most important to teach young children for success later in life. Although some of these things may seem elementary, believe it or not it is RARE, very RARE to find these traits in young children. Believe me, at the school where I teach (elementary grades K-5) I might get ONE "please" or "thank you" a day. Most parents seem to want their kids to excel academically or in sports. However, parents can REALLY put their kids ten steps above the pack by teaching them some social skills...which will endure long after they blow out their knees and can no longer play basketball.

Top Etiquette Items

1) Please, thank you, excuse me and bless you: This is a basic life skill. How awesome would it be if your 2 year old to heard a stranger sneeze and followed it up with "bless you!" It would certainly take the stranger by surprise! Or if your 3 year old was in line at the grocery store and accidentally bumped the person in front, only to follow up with, "Excuse me." People are not used to hearing children be so polite. In fact, I don't think people are used to hearing ADULTS be so polite!

2) Interrupting: If there is one "kid" pet peeve of mine, it's interrupting. Ever tried having a conversation with a friend and her cute, but annoying two year old keeps wailing "Moooommmmeeee!", hovering around incessantly pining for Mom's attention? It's enough to drive you nuts, especially when it's your own kid! Although I don't want to restrict my child from talking and expressing herself, children need to learn how to restrain themselves in certain situations. This skill may be one of your toddlers first lessons in self-control.

Unfortunately, I put up with Brooke doing this far too long. I guess I didn't know how to put a stop to it until I read a great tip in the "Babywise" series. This is what I am doing (with success!). First, I waited until she performed the dreaded deed of interrupting--nothing like a teaching IN the moment. Then I explained to her that Mommy and Daddy were talking and it wasn't OK to interrupt when two people are talking. I told her I was still really interested in what she had to say, so if she had something to say, she needed to raise her hand (LIFE skills, my friends!). When she raises her hand, I acknowledge her by nodding or putting my hand on hers--just so she knows that I see her. She's allowed to speak when I say, "Ok, what do you have to say?" Although Brooke is FAR from mastering "interruption etiquette" as I call it, (she's a MAJOR chatterbox) I have definitely seen progress. It's so cute to see her wildly raising her hand out of the corner of my eye when Scott and I are talking.

3) Table manners: When Brooke turned 3, we began having dinner in the formal dining room each evening. I firmly believe it sitting down to dinner each night, saying grace and having good conversation. We're all busy, but this is one time during the day we can all come together. Below are the "rules" I have put in place for Brooke. Consequences are one warning and if it happens again, she gets down from the table and her dinnertime is over, no exceptions:

- We don't start eating until everyone has their food.
- Ask to be excused from the table.
- No playing with food.

4) Introducing yourself, hand shaking: Yes, I am trying to teach my 3 year old the beauty of a good, solid handshake when meeting adults she doesn't know. Followed with, "Hi, my name is Brooke." We've been role-playing at home (3 year olds--they LOVE "pretend!!") and she had a chance to test her skills at a recent party we went to. She did beautifully with the first two people and then shriveled back to her old shy ways. But we're still working on it--there is definite progress!

5) Addressing adults: I don't allow Brooke to call any adult non-family member by their first name. She doesn't call my friends "Traci" or "Jean." She calls them Mrs. Golis and Mrs. Jordan. This is one of the first steps you can take to teach kids respect for adults. Because you know, "kids these days..." they have no respect for their elders!!

Keep in mind, Brooke is 3 1/2 and she has not completely mastered any of these except (maybe) "thank you" and #5. But never underestimate what your little one can do. Don't fall for the excuse, "they're too young to be expected to do that." Demand high expectations and they will reap the benefits for a lifetime.

PS--As for the nose-picking....I choose my battles!!! There is only so much one person can do :-)


  1. Casey - As a non-parent I really get a kick out of reading this blog! I worked with kids for years and really wish their parents had giving it half the thought that you do.

    Now, if there were some way I could forward your blog to my parent friends with seeming a tad bit rude.... hmmm.

    It sure seems like you are enjoying motherhood. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Good tips. Although, I'm not too fond of the Mrs thing. It's not always so clear. Hyphenations, a woman not taking her husband's name, etc. How would you handle a situation like that? I think one way would be to say: Ms Heidi, Ms Casey, etc. However, for the men -- Mr. Matt? Mr. Scott? Sounds odd. Hmmm .....

    As for eating together as a family -- absolutely and you should totally feel BLESSED to be able to do that. I believe if you CAN then it should be done. Even before kids, Matt and I would sit at our dining room table and have a nice meal -- never in front of the TV unless it was pizza and late at night. :-)

  3. I would say do whatever you think they should do to show respect to their elders. I think just calling grown ups by their first name sounds weird when Brooke has done it. It doesn't matter what their last name is--just have them call them by whatever their last name is or what that person goes by!