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30 Little Etiquette Things To Teach Your Kids So They Don’t Grow Up To Be Jerks

As the world starts to open back up, I have never been so aware of the amount of just-plain-courtesy that is lacking in society.

Oh, don’t worry — I’ve had to get on to my kids PLENTY — and even my husband — as we seem to have forgotten what manners are and what they’re used for.

I mean, maybe it’s because people have been cooped up at home, and have just-plain forgotten how to act in civilized public.

Maybe it’s because we all thought we were going to get sick, and we just can’t spare the time to be nice (I’m talking to YOU, toilet paper hoarding crisis of 2020).

OR, maybe it has to do with the fact that some people are just unaware that they are coming off as pushy and rude.

I don’t know.

Whatever the reason, here are 30 Social Etiquette Rules that everyone should be teaching their kids, so we don’t create a generation of jerks.

1) Say Please And Thank You

It is a SIMPLE thing to do, and doesn’t take hardly any time at all. Not to mention, it’s just plain nice.

2) Look People In The Eyes And Smile

This will make you appear more confident and put together in general.

I have a VERY hard time teaching my angsty teenager this one, but it’s all about persistence. She will learn eventually.

3) Let Someone Go Ahead Of You In Line

Have you ever been at the grocery store, waiting in line with 1 or 2 items, and you had to wait while that person who had the entire store in their basket checked out? ANNOYING.

Be mindful of other people, and if the opportunity presents itself, let that person cut in front of you. You just might make their day!

4) Put Down That Smartphone

Seriously. There is a time and place for everything, and when you are having a conversation with someone, or being greeted by someone, it’s not the time to be scrolling or typing away on your phone. Refer to point #2.

5) Listen For and Learn People’s Names

Okay, I’m guilty of this. I try to remember names, but they go right in one ear and out the other.

Try to associate someone’s name with something about them — like their physical features — this will make remembering their name easier, and will totally impress them.

6) Check That Effing Potty Mouth At The Door

Trust — I am guilty of letting the cursies fly, and can get myself in some hot water at times. But, once again, there is a time and a place for everything, and when you are out in public, you shouldn’t be letting the level 10 curse words freely flow from your mouth.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out in public, and I’ve had to cover my little one’s ears for fear of them learning a fun new word.

Please be mindful of your surroundings.

7) Be On Time

This is one of my PET PEEVES! There is literally no reason, except in emergency situations — or if you have little kids — that you can’t be ontime to places. Leave five or ten minutes early if you have to.

It comes off as totally selfish and rude to show up at a later time than you were supposed to. Be mindful of others’ time, not just your own.

8) Don’t Show Up At A Store Or Restaurant Right When They Are Closing

Just like YOU don’t like to stay late at work, those servers and customer service employees want out of there too. They have plenty to do after you leave, so don’t make their jobs harder by making them stay late.

9) Hold The Door For The Person Behind You

It’s polite and nice, and doesn’t take but 3 seconds out of your day.

10) Practice The Pause

By that, I mean, before you react to someone, consider what they are going through that you may not know about.

Rude sales person? Cranky waitress? Inconsiderate driver? There is probably a reason they are being that way. Show them a bit of grace, and pause before you react.

Did you get a rude email or text? Maybe they didn’t mean it the way you took it. Pause before you answer, and consider there might be a reason their email is coming off that way.

It won’t kill you to be nice, and you just may make them realize they are being less-than-friendly at the moment.

11) Don’t Drive Your Shopping Cart Down The Middle Of The Aisle

One word — Walmart. Happens all. the. time.

Keep your cart to the right-hand-side of the aisle, and let that person, who may not need to be tangled up in your shopping cart traffic, go by.

12) Put Your Shopping Cart Away When You Are Done With It

Yes, I mean walk it all the way over to that shopping cart corral that they have set up in the parking lot.

I’ve seen shopping carts hanging out in parking spaces, and I’ve seen employees have to hike to the back of the parking lot to retrieve a buggy.

Once again, be considerate of others.

13) Don’t Hang Out In The Fast Lane While Driving

There are usually at least two lanes — a fast lane on the left and a slower lane on the right.

If you are not going as fast as the person behind you, and you are in the fast lane, move over.

BTW, if there are three lanes, that middle lane is for PASSING. Don’t hang out in the middle lane either.

14) Use Your Dang Turn Signal

This is the lever on the left-hand side of your steering wheel. It lets people know that you have the intention of turning.

This is helpful to those behind you, and it is also helpful to those that may want to turn in front of you.

15) Stay At Home If You Are Sick

Sure, everyone may love you and think you are the life of the party, but NOBODY wants your cooties — ESPECIALLY with the COVID going around.

Work will be just fine without you for a day, or you can go out with your friends another day. If you are sick, stay. at. home.

16) Cough Or Sneeze Into Your Elbow

We should all be acutely aware of this little etiquette rule, because of all the COVID regulations.

Nobody wants your germs — that includes free floating in the air or from your hands.

17) Set Your Smartphone To Silent And Don’t Answer It

This goes for anywhere that sound may be an interrupting issue: church, the movies, a meeting, even sometimes in line at the store.

Nobody wants to hear all your business. If there is an emergency, that person can text you.

18) Excuse Yourself To Answer Your Phone

This kind of goes along with #14. Think about how answering your phone might be affecting your surroundings. Be considerate of others.

I can’t tell you just how many times I’ve had to have this conversation with my own parents.

19) Send Thank You Notes

Sure, a handwritten note is nice, but at least shoot someone an email if they have done something nice for you.

Not only is it polite, it lets the person know that you actually received their kindness.

For instance, I sent out some rather expensive graduation gifts this year, and never heard a word from the seniors. For all I know, the packages got lost in the mail.

But, I sure don’t want to ask them if they got the packages — that is almost like fishing for a Thank You.

20) Ask Before You Start Posting On Social Media

Not everyone wants their business out for all the world to see.

I’ve even started asking my teenager if she minds if I post pictures on social media. She is going through an angsty private stage, and I want to respect her privacy and boundaries.

21) Shaking Hands

This one is tricky since the whole COVID thing has hit the world.

The correct thing USED to be to give a FIRM handshake — there’s nothing worse than a limp handshake.

But now, you don’t really want to shake hands and get someone’s germs.

If you are friendly with the person, you can always bump elbows, but if you don’t really know the person — maybe a hearty wave?

22) Don’t Shorten Or Elongate Someone’s Name Without Their Permission

My dad does this, and it drives me absolutely crazy.

If someone says their name is Pat, he will call them Patrick. If someone says their name is Jonathan, he will call them John.

If they wanted you to call them a nickname, they would have told you that from the start. Be respectful, and use the name they gave you.

23) Knock Before You Enter A Room

I am CONSTANTLY having this battle with my young son.

That is someone’s personal space behind that door. You want to respect it.

Besides, you never know what is going on behind closed doors, and you don’t want to just barge in — you might just see something you don’t want to!

24) Clean Up After Your Dog

Are you a good puppy parent, and take your dog for walks?

Take a bag with you, and pick up any excrement that they may leave in people’s yards or in public places. Nobody wants to see — or step in — that mess.

25) Don’t Be Outright Nosey

You might be DYING to know what happened to your neighbor who had that unexpected visitor yesterday, or you just have to know why your acquaintance lost their job.

If they wanted you to know, they would tell you.

26) Speak When Spoken To

Again, another hot topic of conversation with my kids.

This goes along with looking someone in the eyes and smiling. If someone addresses you personally, respond.

I’m not saying you have to tell them your whole life story, but if they say “Hello,” tell them “Hello” back. If they ask you a question — even if you don’t know the answer — acknowledge that they spoke to you.

Of course, there is the whole stranger-danger issues — but teach your kids to understand the difference.

27) Help That Person Who Obviously Needs Help

Do you see that mom who clearly has her hands full and is about to drop everything? Offer to help.

Is there a short person trying desperately to reach an item on the top shelf that you can easily reach? Get it for them.

28) Contact That Person Who Is Grieving

Hear this when I say, DON’T BE NOSEY. This isn’t the time or the place.

But, be there — reach out — even if you don’t quite know what to say. A simple, “I’m sorry you are going through this” might mean the world to them.

Offer to help them if they need it — grocery shopping, gas, mowing their lawn, making phone calls — whatever is in your means.

29) Return That Phone Call

Yes, I hate talking on the phone as much as anyone, but I always at least acknowledge that someone took the time to call me.

Sometimes, if I can’t get to the phone, I’ll shoot a text to that person, just to let them know I’m not avoiding them.

30) Say Thank You

I’ve saved the best one for last. If you do NONE of the other points of etiquette, ALWAYS say THANK YOU!

It’s a simple thing that takes 1.3 seconds, but it is one of the most polite things you can do.

Here Is A Bonus Point of Etiquette For You

Always say you’re sorry — and mean it.

That doesn’t mean the other person “wins” and you “lose,” it just means that you are sorry that something happened the way it did.

Let me say that again IT DOESN’T MEAN THE OTHER PERSON “WINS.” It simply means that you regret the outcome of whatever happened.

This can help, or even save, so many of your relationships.

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