Good manners can smooth many situations for your child, and can help him know what to do in a variety of circumstances. The best way to teach the basics of good manners is to set a good example. You can teach manners for more specific circumstances as they arise or through set lessons. Manners can include letter writing and even correct behavior when using electronic devices. Consideration for others is the foundation of good manners.
Set a good example. It might seem odd to say "please" and "thank you" to a pre-verbal child, but little ones understand language before they speak it. Besides, it is good practice for you to get in the habit of using polite words before your child is old enough to imitate you. As he grows older, he will imitate the way you deal with relatives, his siblings, your spouse or significant other, shop keepers and his teachers.
Teach your child to say "please," "thank you" and "excuse me" at appropriate times. Peggy Post, author of "Emily Post's Guide to Good Manners for Kids," says that these three expressions are the most basic parts of politeness. Even very small children can learn when to use these words, even if they don't quite understand why they should. Have at least one meal each week where you and your children sit down at a table to eat together. Model the correct way to use utensils, use a napkin, pass food and hold a conversation. Take time to explain things such as how to correctly hold utensils.
Encourage your child to write thank you notes to relatives and friends. Acknowledging a gift or action rewards people who have given tangible gifts or spent time with your child. Set up rules for use of devices such as the telephone, computer or other devices in your home. Using good electronic etiquette includes answering the phone politely, sharing bandwidth, and observing safety rules such as your child never telling a caller or person on the Internet that he is home alone, or giving out his personal identification information.
Model polite language. Avoid using derogatory expressions, degrading slang or profanity around your child. Small children learn language from people around them. The words they hear are the ones they will use to express themselves. Watching and listening to you, they will also learn how to answer a telephone, how to introduce someone and how to deal with family members. If you use socially accepted words and phrases, your child is likely to also use polite words when talking with others.