100 Manners Every Well-Bred Child Should Know

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When I ask young people the importance of manners, I'm not surprised by their blank faces. Mine was blank once too. We're told to have good manners, but we seldom stop to think about why we practice good manners.

  • Good manners are to show other people consideration and respect.

  • Good manners prevent us from needlessly offending others both in our speech and our dress.

  • Good manners are the difference between war and peace inside the home and outside the home.

  • Practicing good manners teaches one humility, and humility is a virtue.

  • Good manners are the foundation of a civil society.

Good manners are the difference between the well-bred and the ill-bred.

“Well-bred” is defined as “of good upbringing, well-mannered, refined” according to the American Heritage dictionary. I use the term with intention, because I want to emphasize that being “well-bred” is not reserved for the few.

Being well-bred does not depend upon your outward status in life, it depends upon your inward status. It is available to anyone for the taking.

As for a hat—well, what does a hat matter? I can buy a hat as easily as I can buy a bun; but what’s under the hat, what the hat covers, I can’t buy that!
— Fyodor Dostoevsky

Many of today’s young people are more concerned with being an "individual" than they are with being a decent human being. They have somehow concluded that having good manners stifles their right to express who they are.

What the young people, who fall into this group, fail to understand is that what they are is not uniquely individual, but like many young people today they are entitled, rude, and disrespectful.

Either way, things have gone too far, for too long, and it's time to set the record straight.

Here are 100 manners that I hope you will agree every child should be aware of and strive to adopt as their own. Every single manner on my list used to be the norm in America, as recent as my own childhood. Some are still relevant today though not practiced nearly enough.

For the out-dated customs, such as a younger person addressing an adult by a title, you should know that in my day no one would dare call an elder by their first name.

There’s no knowing who’s a gentleman and who isn’t nowadays.
— Fyodor Dostoevsky

My best friend's parents were Mr. and Mrs. Shannon until the day they died. If they were alive today, I would still call them by their last name. Just because no one follows this custom today does not mean it is better not to follow it.

Juxtapose such outdated customs to present times when adults and children are on a first name basis as “best buddies” and when children have little respect for their parents or elders.

Out-dated, as in no longer practiced, was never more relevant than it is today. If the manner made my list, then believe me when I tell you that there's no better time than right now to bring it back.

100 MANNERS

  1. Well-bred children look people in the eye when they speak to them. 

  2. Well-bred children listen attentively to their elders when they speak.

  3. Well-bred children hold the door open for the elderly.

  4. Well-bred children do not pull out a book and start reading or looking at their phones when in company, nor do they bring their phones to the dinner table.

  5. Well-bred children don't slam doors.

  6. Well-bred children open and close cupboards quietly.

  7. Well-bred children hang up their coats and put their shoes in the closet when they get home.

  8. Well-bred children pick up after themselves and put their things away when they are finished using them.

  9. Well-bred children do not touch things that do not belong to them without the owner's permission.

  10. Well-bred children say "thank you" to show appreciation when someone does something for them. 

  11. Well-bred children say "yes please" and "no, thank you" when they are asked if they would like something. 

  12. Well-bred children apologize if they break something that belongs to someone else. (An astute parent may even have them replace it at their own expense.)

  13. Well-bred children leave the bathroom tidy and clean for the next person.

  14. Well-bred children do not enter another’s room without permission. They also knock before entering when the door is closed.

  15. Well-bred children do not burp out loud, and if they do by mistake, they certainly don’t laugh about it. Instead they say, "Excuse me”. They never simulate a burb to be funny, because they know it’s not funny but rude.

  16. Well-bred children cover their mouths when coughing or yawning.

  17. Well-bred children don't talk while yawning, and they do their best to cover the sound of a sigh.

  18. Well-bred childen try hard not to yawn when in company so as not to appear bored.

  19. Well-bred children chew with their mouths closed, and they don't talk with food in their mouths. 

  20. Well-bred children take small bites of food and finish chewing before they put fork to mouth again. 

  21. Well-bred children wash their hands before and after eating. 

  22. Well-bred children dress respectfully and modestly so they don't offend others. 

  23. Well-bred children always offer an elder their chair or seat. 

  24. Well-bred children obey the requests of adults.

  25. Well-bred children never complain about being bored. They are generally not in the habit of complaining.

  26. Well-bred children do not talk back to their parents or elders.

  27. Well-bred children do not lie. They do not tattletale or whine either.

  28. Well-bred children do not gossip.

  29. Well-bred children always make a third person feel welcome, and they don’t whisper when other people are present.

  30. Well-bred children keep their teeth clean and their hair brushed.

  31. Well-bred children do not put their feet on the tables in their homes, and they would be ashamed to put their feet on a table in public or be seen with someone who does.

  32. Well-bred children do not push others out of the way to get to something first, especially not a younger child or an adult. 

  33. Well-bred children do not help themselves to the last serving of a dish at mealtime without offering it to others first. 

  34. Well-bred children always greet others with a pleasant expression or a smile. They ask others how they are upon first meeting, and they are genuinely interested in the reply. 

  35. Well-bred children do not make unnecessary noises that may disturb others like tapping their feet on the floor or their fingers on the table.

  36. Well-bred children offer to help someone out of consideration, and they try to offer before they are asked.

  37. Well-bred children make an effort to keep up friendly conversation when in company or when sharing meals. 

  38. Well-bred children engage with their guests either when they have guests in their home, or when they are a guest in someone else's home.

  39. Well-bred children do not play music loudly when it might disturb others including their neighbors. 

  40. Well-bred children are generally considerate of other people.

  41. Well-bred children do not complain about their parents to their friends.

  42. Well-bred children take their clothes out of the laundry room as soon as they are done in case someone else wants to use it.

  43. Well-bred children don't complain about their teachers to their parents without due cause such as physical harm.

  44. Well-bred children do not use their cell phones when in company, and if for some reason they must, they take permission to step outside where it won't disturb the others.

  45. Well-bred children practice the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

  46. Well-bred children do not moan and groan about the food they are served, and they eat everything on their plate whether they like it or not.

  47. Well-bred children show respect towards their grandparents and make the effort to engage in pleasant conversation with them.

  48. Well-bred children do not show-off or try to make other people look foolish.

  49. Well-bred children know right from wrong, and they act accordingly. 

  50. Well-bred children help take care of younger siblings and are kind to them. 

  51. Well-bred children do not throw fits of anger when denied what they want.

  52. Well-bred children when taken out for hot chocolate by a friend's parents, do not ask for cake too.

  53. Well-bred children send thank you notes when they receive a gift even if they don't like the gift.

  54. Well-bred children know how to share with others.

  55. Well-bred children do not seek to be the center of attention.

  56. Well-bred children do not put their fingers in their ears or noses.

  57. Well-bred children do not blow their noses at the table during meals and if they must, they do it very discreetly. 

  58. Well-bred children never use their sleeve to wipe their nose or mouth.

  59. Well-bred children reply in complete sentences when they are spoken to. 

  60. Well-bred children do not mumble. They speak clearly and loudly enough for others to hear them without having to strain their ears.

  61. Well-bred children do not correct adults unless they are very discreet about it or in the case of an emergency.

  62. Well-bred children do not jump on furniture or beds.

  63. Well-bred children do not tell a friend about a party the friend wasn't invited to or anything else that might make the friend feel left out.

  64. Well-bred children do not think they are better than other people.

  65. Well-bred children do not yell (unless they are outside playing) or talk loudly over others.

  66. Well-bred children do not roll their eyes or curl their upper lip at others.

  67. Well-bred children keep their nails clean and short. They do not bite their nails.

  68. Well-bred children do not flatter people to seek favors.

  69. Well-bred children do not look over someone's shoulder to see what they are reading or writing.

  70. Well-bred children do not read other people's journals or diaries.

  71. Well-bred children do not spy or eavesdrop.

  72. Well-bred children do not show happiness at another's misfortune, even if it is someone they don't like.

  73. Well-bred children do not mock others, especially not their parents, or make fun of imperfections or idiosyncrasies others cannot help.

  74. Well-bred children do not argue with others for the sake of arguing.

  75. Well-bred children do not blame others, but they take responsibility for their actions and choices.

  76. Well-bred children do not eat in the car or while walking down the street.

  77. Well-bred children do not share their parent’s mistakes for others to laugh at.

  78. Well-bred children do not brag about their accomplishments or grades.

  79. Well-bred children do not burst out laughing in company without reasonable cause.

  80. Well-bred children don't speak hurtful words even in jest.

  81. Well-bred children do not stare at others.

  82. Well-bred children mind their own business.

  83. Well-bred children keep their promises.

  84. Well-bred children do not constantly contradict others.

  85. Well-bred children do not get up from the dinner table without first asking permission.

  86. Well-bred children do not put their elbows on the table or lounge in their chairs when at meal.

  87. Well-bred children wait to be served when they are a guest in someone's home.

  88. Well-bred children do not blow on their food to cool it.

  89. Well-bred children do not rinse their mouth with drink at the table.

  90. Well-bred children do not get angry at the table while eating. 

  91. Well-bred children do not make fun of others for being kind and good.

  92. Well-bred children don't interrupt adults when they are talking, and they do not join the conversation unless they are invited.

  93. Well-bred children stand where their parents can see them, wait for their parents to pause in their conversation, and only speak when their parents have given them permission to.

    ( "Excuse me, but..." is an interruption and not something well-bred children do.)

  94. Well-bred children clean up their messes in the kitchen.

  95. Well-bred children do not expect to be paid for doing daily chores.

  96. Well-bred children do not swear, use crude language, or talk about private things that should be treated with modesty. 

  97. Well-bred children do not drop wrappers or garbage on the ground when out in public

  98. Well-bred children do not speak so loudly as to disturb others when in a public space.

  99. Well-bred children speak politely to their parents and never shout to them from another room. Instead, they go to where their parents are and say what they need to say.

  100. Well-bred children greet the host and hostess when they arrive, and they say thank you when they leave. 

  101. A bonus manner is that well-bred boys are taught to open doors for ladies, and to ignore the ill-mannered feminists when they sneer at them for being a gentleman. 

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A gentleman: a person continuously considerate of all.
— Will Durant

And, ladies, when a gentleman does hold open a door for you; remember to pause, look directly at him, smile, and let him know how much you appreciate his thoughtful gesture.

Various men have told me that they no longer open the doors for ladies because they get snapped at. Which means that when a man does open the door, he is refusing to relinquish his manners because some women have lost theirs.

This deserves acknowledging with more than just a quick half-glanced thank you.

Good manners are the basis of civil society. Teach your children that when they practice good manners, they are helping to preserve our civilization.

They too have a vital part to play.

Civilization is a fragile bungalow precariously poised on a live volcano of barbarism.
— Will Durant
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P. S. If you liked this, then don’t miss my free download, Ten Books Every Well-Educated Child Should Read.

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