Beyond "please" and "thank you," there are lots of etiquette "rules" kids have to learn so they can grow into well-mannered, decent people. Which ones are the most important?
Not all children are exposed to the etiquette lessons from Highlights' Goofus and Gallant:
But it's our hope as parents not to raise annoying Goofuses (and no doubt you've met a few Goofus-types in your life, of various ages). So these are our suggestions for some of the important issues to consider -- we'd love to hear your contributions as well!
How to have a conversation—and really listen
Taking turns talking (instead of talking over the other person) and truly listening isn't easy for kids (and many adults too), but that's the basis of meaningful conversation, and the sooner we learn these skills the better. Real Simple has a suggestion (in its print magazine) of practising this by tossing a ball or pillow back and forth, where the person holding the item has the opportunity to talk—like the conch in Lord of the Flies, I guess.
There are lots of other opportunities to teach this lesson in everyday life, though. The other day my 8 year old and her friend were talking and got into a screaming match, yelling over each other and arguing over the right way to sew a stuffed animal. In the end, they realised they both were saying the same thing.
Respect for others' personal space
Young kids are often used to cuddling with you, climbing over you, and otherwise being super close. Others might not appreciate that much closeness.
How to wait without whining
This is hard for adults too! I need to take my daughter to more boring errands like going to the post office or goof shopping. Patience is a skill that maybe is more easily learned from those hardening experiences.
Cleaning up after yourself
It's in the Goofus and Gallant comic above, but worth repeating. At some point, kids will probably live with others outside your family, and no one likes to live with a slob. Plus, littering is just not cool.
(Personally, I don't really care if my kid's room and playroom are a mess, as they usually are. But the other areas of the house have different standards.)
Put technology away at the dinner table and when friends are around
This goes for both kids and parents alike. (I know it's hard)