by Inge Cannon, Education PLUS
Each rule of etiquette reflects an
attitude or character quality which reveals
an individual’s values and personal
The following thoughts should help in
determining which rules of etiquette or
“social graces,” as they are
often called, are important to your
“Others May; You May
It is a simple reality that God sometimes
places limits on His servants, especially for
the development of their lives as
leaders. Leaders live in goldfish bowls
– everyone sees how and where they
you willing to set aside a personal habit or
choice to help someone else grow in the Lord?
you view this as a high calling from God
rather than a straitjacket?
you view the practice of details that
sometimes feel needlessly “picky”
as a means of demonstrating the character of
Christ in your life?
Categories of Rules
It will be helpful to your children if you
help them identify the category of each
etiquette rule you are striving to learn and
practice. Much irritation of spirit can
come as a result of not understanding
1. Convictions or Moral Directives
These rules deal with issues that are
right or wrong according to the Word of
God. These may never be adjusted.
Etiquette rules in this category involve
propriety between men and women, honesty in
communication, integrity in ethics, and
fulfillment of promises.
2. Efficiency Directives
These rules are for the convenience of a
group. This can be a family, work team,
friendships, or any other unit of people.
Etiquette rules in this category deal with
being punctual, organized, neat, etc., at
work, in travel, during leisure activities,
and with guests.
3. Deference or Consideration
These rules deal with how others feel when
I behave toward them in a given manner.
These etiquette rules enable a person to
practice the “golden rule” in
4. Reputation Concerns
These rules deal with the appearance of
things and the associations which things
have. These rules involve setting
minimum standards so that individual and
organizational images are controlled.
As such, these are often the most
difficult requirements of all, because people
have so many opinions of what is best.
Just remember that God’s Word teaches
us to “avoid every appearance of
evil” and to be moderate or balanced in
Etiquette rules in this category involve
“above-reproach” honesty with
money and things, chaperons to communicate
propriety and protection in relations with
the opposite sex, and dependability in
Dos and Don’ts
It would be ideal if an exhaustive list of
dos and don’ts could be mastered.
But life’s situations often involve
judgment calls that seem to fall between the
cracks of specified ideals.
Teach your children that it is a mark of
maturity to evaluate the gray areas or
questionable things by God’s direction
with questions like these:
this habit or activity build my life?
it bind me in any way?
it the best for me?
Rather than asking what is wrong with an
action or activity, consider carefully what
is right about it.
Spirit or Attitude
Every rule of etiquette for Christians
should communicate the core message of what
we believe and the Lord Whom we serve.
practice of chivalry or gentlemanly conduct
– whether given by a man or received
graciously by a woman – is really a
testimony to what we believe about the
distinction between men and women.
fact that we dress up for a worship service,
wedding, or funeral allows us to show respect
to the one being honored in each context.
table manners give us the opportunity to
present ourselves in the manner that we would
like to observe in others, for no one enjoys
witnessing crude behavior during a meal.
Each of our actions demonstrates more than
just our ability to learn rules and adopt
habits. The practices themselves
clearly demonstrate our philosophy of life,
for the true test of what a person believes
lies in actions rather than words.
Successful training always involves
instruction, reinforcement, correction, and
consistent example. There really are no
shortcuts. Self-discipline is a
Excerpted from Etiquette PLUS:
Polishing Life’s Useful Skills and
reprinted from The Teaching Home,
Dr. Ronald and Inge Cannon operate
Education PLUS and Homeschooltranscripts.com
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Foundation for American Christian
Home of the Webster's
Home is the most important place to teach,
model, and practice these basic manners from
Always behave the way you want your
children to behave – with respect,
honesty, and consideration for others. They
will learn the most from watching you.
Develop the habits of good manners by
patient teaching, kindly reminders,
role-playing practice, and praise when your
children get it right!
See The Teaching Home's E-Mail Newsletter
Archives for issues on Character
Development, Part 1 and Part
2, and Forming
Good Habits, Part 1 and Part
1. Courteous Words
to Meet You
I’m Sorry. Please Forgive Me.
2. Table Manners
to the table promptly when called, with clean
hands and face.
your napkin on your lap.
to start eating after after the prayer is
said and the hostess (Mom) begins eating.
seated, and sit up straight without leaning
on the table.
with your mouth closed, and don’t talk
with food in your mouth.
make negative comments about the food, but do
thank whoever prepared the meal.
“Please pass the ____,” instead
with everyone at the table.
make rude noises, like burping or slurping;
say, “Excuse me,” if the noise
to be excused before leaving the table, and
then offer to help clear the dishes.
3. Kindness and Respect for
• Remember “Politeness
is to do and say the kindest thing in the
kind to all – family first – and
especially look out for those younger or
weaker than yourself.
turns; don’t take the best and biggest
of anything for yourself.
you bump into someone or walk in front of
them, say, “Excuse me,
interrupt a conversation, or someone who is
speaking to you.
at the person who is speaking to you, or to
whom you are speaking.
carefully and show interest by asking
questions and making comments.
you speak, do so clearly and loudly enough
5. Meeting and Greeting
you meet people, look directly at them,
smile, and say, “Hello.”
how to shake hands and greet a person by
6. Thank-you Notes
gifts, meals, and parties, send a written
7. Telephone Manners
Consideration for safety as well as
manners will affect your rules for the use of
allow a child to answer your telephone until
he has learned and practiced (in
role-playing) all your telephone rules.
School Legal Defense Association recommends
that you do not allow your children to answer
the telephone during school hours.
your child not to give out any personal
information to callers.
your child how to call 911 and give your
address only in a real emergency.
down background noise before answering the
clearly and identify yourself if the caller
is someone you know.
“Who’s calling, please?” if
the caller does not identify himself.
only, “She is not available at the
moment” (not specifically where she is
and what she is doing).
taking a message, include who it is for, who
it is from, and a phone number (keep pens and
paper by the phone).
“One moment, please,” and go get
the person wanted (don't yell).
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Free Online Resources
for Teaching Manners
Judi, The Manners Lady
Judi Vankevich, The Manners Lady, offers a
variety of resources to teach important life
principles and good manners in a fun way on
her website www.TheMannersClub.com.
and print this one-page reminder of
respectful attitudes, words, and actions.
the Sports Pledge.
online club. Churches and
homeschool groups can run The Manners Club as
a VBS or a unit study!
Judi also presents programs and speaks to
groups about manners.
Fun To Have Good Manners!”
CD with 16 songs for children. Listen
to all the songs online.
Hello to All the World!”
to say hello in 52 languages!
The Emily Post Institute Website
A large, easy-to-use website
for help in teaching children manners.
Words in American Sign Language, plus printable
ASL Flash Cards.
and Caring Words in American Sign
Language, plus printable
ASL Flash Cards.
Manners for the 4-7 Year Old
you can expect.
Tip Cards for Table Manners, plus Everyday
Placemat for Learning How to Set the Table
to Write a Thank-you Note
Your Kids To Write Thank-You Notes
Tip Cards for Table Manners, Conversations,
Helping Children with Manners
details on teaching children manners.