Little kids just obey the rules. But bigger kids can’t quite see the point of etiquette! Your parents tell you to do this or that and get cross or punish you if you don’t, but it all seems a bit silly or totally embarrassing. Actually, the main point of manners is to be considerate to others and to show that you care for them. Here’s the secret: the better you treat people, the better they treat you. “Do unto others as you would be done by” is a good thought to take you through the day. Being polite is a non-verbal way of saying that you respect strangers, friends or family. They are not mind readers and may not think you like them if you do things that are considered rude. Girls love well-mannered boys who make them feel special and boys know that they can bring polite girls home to meet mom and dad without being grilled to death.
Always say thank you. Appreciating everything that is done for you is the first rule of good manners. Thank anyone who is kind to you however small the action and if you receive a gift. This isn’t compulsory just super nice: write a thank you note (or email) if you are taken to a movie, play, ballgame, on vacation or for a special treat by your friend’s family or an older relative.
If someone speaks to while you are playing a game, texting, tweeting or emailing, be sure to look up and speak to that person. Don’t do any of that at lunch or dinner, even under the table.
Say thank you to your host and hostess.
Don’t barge through doors first, that’s just for puppies who don’t know any better. Hold doors open for everyone else to pass through. As a matter of fact, train your puppy to follow you!
Fess up if you chip or break something. If you know it was you, just admit it. If it’s at another house, you or your parents should offer to pay and you pay your parents back some part of it at least, either with pocket money or chores.
Chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk while chewing with a mouth full of food.
Don’t hold your fork and knife upright and wave them around. You aren’t conducting an orchestra. Keep your knife and fork pointing towards the food until you lift the fork into your mouth to eat. Rest the knife on your plate and then rest the fork while you chew.
Cut off one piece of meat or one vegetable at a time, don’t cut the total contents of your plate into many little pieces and convert your meal into a dog’s dinner.
Buttering bread rolls. Scoop a pat of butter onto the side of your plate or bread plate if you have one. Break off one small piece of the roll and only butter that piece. Don’t use your hand as a plate and slap butter or jam onto the cracker, toast or bread. Do all that on a plate.
In a formal place setting do you know which side the drink sits and which side the bread sits? Make a b with the left finger and thumb, middle finger pointed straight up, and a d with the right finger and thumb. B for bread plate sits on the left hand of your main plate and D for drink, (water glass) sits on the right.
No boarding house stretches please. If the thing you want is out of reach, politely ask someone nearby to pass it.
Eat quietly. No slurping the soup or the cereal, burping, or sucking your spaghetti noisily into your mouth like a straw.
Sit up straight and keep your elbows and chin off the table. Your neck and backbone are amazingly strong.
Don’t bolt your food and finish long before everyone else. This isn’t a competition. When you have finished don’t race away from the table. At a polite meal and family gathering, you ask to be excused.Then be sure to bring something to do while the adults are having their boring conversations.
You are not the waiter. In a nice restaurant, place your knife and fork at 6:20 in the US to signify that you have finished, and leave your plate in front of you. Don’t stack the dirty plates and pass them to the busboy. That’s more the style of fast food and at home family dining.
At a friend’s house offer to help clear up.
Do one good deed every day. It could be a kindness like holding the door open for somebody, smiling to a stranger, saying something nice to somebody, anybody, helping your mother carry groceries, fetching your dad’s newspaper… whatever. Then notice if people respond in a nice way or not. Are they grumpy or did you make their day? You have the power to make someone feel better and that’s a gift you can give everyone.