Manners and social skills matter everywhere

Manners and Social Skills 24/7

Manners and social skills matter everywhere. However, most people, when hearing the terms manners or social skills automatically think of table manners or dining skills. But those terms mean so much more. I often tell kids in classes when they ask why they need to know about manners, that there is good news and bad news on this topic. The good news is if they stay in their room 24/7, they won’t need to know any manners stuff. But the bad news is, if they come out of their rooms, they will have to learn manners and social skills to know how to get along with other people.

Good Manners Matter

This graphic shows just a few of the areas of our lives where it is important to have good manners and social skills. We all talk and want to have someone listen when we do, so that is key in having a good conversation with another person. Sharing is a skill that we all need to learn, especially kids at home with siblings, or when going to daycare or preschool.

In addition, we all know that please and thank-you are probably the first manners words that kids are taught. So when those words follow them throughout life, people identify them as polite, mannerly people. No-one wants to get sick from other people, so kind, caring, personal manners teach us how to interact with others in a non-offensive way. Additionally, bullying is now at epidemic levels, so it’s important that kids learn proper ways of behaving so they are better able to reject bullying in all its forms.

Song: Manners Matter Everywhere 

When writing the Cool Kind Kid Social Skills, Character Values, and Anti-Bullying Curriculum, Elementary School Edition, I thought it necessary to include some music, since research has shown that young children learn and retain material more readily with music. I commissioned a CD of 17 original songs that went on to win over 15 national awards. Many thanks to Steve Megaw!

[See awards, hear song clips, and buy individual tracks at]  The song, Manners Matter Everywhere, Track 15, is one of the kids’ favorites.

When I’m walking out the front door
(Doop De Do)
Do manners matter anymore?
(Yes, they do)
But what if I just go next door?
(Take ’em with you)
How ’bout in the grocery store?
(Even there, too!)
I know wherever I go
That manners go with me,too

“Cause manners matter everywhere
I’m gonna show everybody out there
That manners and I make a perfect pair
‘Cause manners matter everywhere

When I’m going to the mall
(Doop Da De)
Do manners go with me at all?
How “bout when I’m on a train?
Even when I’m on a plane?


On the playground (manners really matter)
When I’m downtown (manners really matter)
Riding in the car (manners really matter)
Walking in the park (manners really matter)
When I’m out to eat (manners really matter)
When I take my seat (manners really matter)
At the movies (manners really matter)
(Spoken) Manners are grooooovy!

“Cause manners matter everywhere
I’m gonna show everybody I CARE!
“Cause manners and I make a perfect pair
Manners matter everywhere!

The Global Golden Rule

The most widely recognized and easiest definition of manners or social skills is “socially acceptable behavior.” They are the foundation of a society in which people treat one another with civility and respect. A great many cultures, philosophies, and religions of the world have expressed the idea that it is beneficial and desirable for individuals and societies to treat others with respect. Why? Because that is how each would like to be treated. In short, living according to this universal principle of ethical behavior is the foundation not only of good manners but also of a healthy society.

Examples of The Global Golden Rule

Some examples of what is now commonly called The Global Golden Rule include:
Buddhism: “Do not hurt others in ways that you would find hurtful.”
Christianity:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.’
Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man.”
Humanism: “Don’t do things you wouldn’t want to have done to you.”

The Generic Golden Rule

We use a “generic” form of The Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Try this exercise with your children to be sure they understand this concept.  Ask them to discuss the difference between “Treat others the way they treat you,” and  “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Create fun role plays so they see that there is very little difference in wording, but a big difference in meaning. Use this as a starting point to teach your children that manners and social skills matter everywhere.

Manners and Social Skills 24/7

Manners and Social Skills in Communicating


Manners and social skills matter everywhere. To understand all of the places where manners matter in our lives, its easiest to begin with how we communicate with one another. Whether with family, friends, at school or at work, we all need skills to help us make our needs and wants known to others. If we don’t know someone, then introductions become the way to meet people. There are those where we introduce ourselves, and those where we introduce others. In the same vein, how we present ourselves when introducing can guarantee that the other person wants to meet us or not. In addition, forms of address are also important, especially when a child is meeting an adult.

Magic Words

Magic words such as please, thank-you, you’re welcome, excuse me, and I’m sorry have been part of our vernacular for a very long time. When writing our curriculum, we saw a need to add “greeting magic words,” such as hello, good-bye, good morning, and good night because we were noticing that people weren’t using these words as often as they could be. We felt that they would project a much friendlier atmosphere in all social encounters. We saw that the most important magic word to add was what we call the “family magic words;” I Love You!  Many of us often take those words for granted; not saying them as much as we should.  Or, similarly, we assume that the people we love already know that we love them so the words are unnecessary.

Another award-winning Cool Kind Kid CD song that kids love singing and dancing to  is Magic Word Mambo, Track 4 [Hear song clips, and buy individual tracks at]

Talking and Listening

Talking and listening together make a conversation. Without someone listening, a person’s words are pointless. Good conversation skills can secure a relationship, a job, or make or break a career. Knowing what to say, and not say, topics to talk about or avoid, questions to ask or not, are just some of the things to consider when conversing. In addition to one on one conversations, the newest forms of often anonymous communication make it even more important for us to learn how to text, post, blog, or write with kindness, honesty, and civility.

First Impressions and Personal Manners Matter

First Impressions

Most people don’t know that it takes only 5 seconds for someone to form a first impression about them. Yikes! Consequently, how can they get to know what a great person you are in that short a time? So this means that the impression we make must be our very best. It can mean the difference in being invited to a classmate’s birthday party, or the prom, or getting the job you want. And, it can make or break a relationship.

Making a good first impression involves several things; our Appearance (or how we look) and our Actions and Attitudes (what we do). For instance, our Appearance includes being appropriately dressed, having good hygiene and grooming, as well as good posture.  Additionally, our Appearance includes facial expressions. Our Actions and Attitudes include avoiding nervous habits, clear, concise speech, and again, good posture, which can indicate a good or poor attitude. Similarly, facial expressions can indicate these as well.  Likewise, when we add body language to this mix we see that there is much to consider in how we present ourselves.

Personal Manners

Personal Manners are about respecting and taking good care of our one and only body. In other words, we only get one; there are no body transplants. Above all, we must love and respect ourselves, with a healthy level of self-esteem and self-confidence. I wrote a poem about this for kids called: “I Am Special.”

I am special
I’m unique
I’m one of a kind
I’m cool and neat

I’m a first edition
There’s none like me
I’m just the way
I’m supposed to be

I’ll respect myself
Take care of me
I get one body
So I’ll be
Polite to Me!

More to Come

There is much more information to come on this topic. It will be included in my next blog post. In the meantime look at what the National Education Association has to say about the need for kids to learn manners and social skills.

© Barbara Gilmour

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