10 by 10: 10 Social Graces Every Child Should Know By Age 10

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Teaching…. and reinforcing…. again and again…. a few polite behaviors not only insures your children will be desired company for their friends, but gives them great confidence in meeting new social situations with confidence.

The 10 by 10 list is very basic and easy to remember…only 10 behaviors to keep up with in your busy life. You’ll add other manners as they grow, but if these 10 are practiced and embedded life will be sweeter!

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1. Please: Use please when asking for something, or asking someone to pass an item at the dinner table.

2. Thank You: Use thank you when receiving something…a gift, an invitation or a compliment. Be sure to thank your friend and your friend’s parents when you leave a party or after a sleep-over.

3. Excuse Me: When you bump into, or step on someone’s foot, when you walk between two people having a conversation or when you have to interrupt adults who are talking.

4. Ask Permission: To do something, or to use someone else’s property.

5. Hello and Nice to meet you: When introduced to someone say hello and respond if they ask how you are. It’s always polite to ask how they are also.

6. Ask if you can help: Practice asking if you can help at home; set the table, take out the trash or help carry in groceries. When you are visiting a friend, it’s always nice to lend a helping hand.

7. Eat and chew properly: Use your fork, knife and spoon correctly. Put your napkin in your lap. Elbows off the table. Chew with your mouth closed and don’t try to talk while you have food in your mouth.

8. Watch your words: Be kind. Don’t make fun of or tease others and don’t make comments about how a person looks. If you have a question, ask your parent privately. Compliment others.

9. Knock on closed doors: If a door is closed, knock first and wait to be invited in. Don’t open the door and walk in.

10. Give your seat to an older adult: If there are no seats left and you are on a couch or chair or on the bus or at a party and an older adult comes into the room, offer your chair to the adult. You might also go find a chair and bring it for the older adult.

Print the *10 By 10 * list here as a reminder!

Photos of Kathryn’s adorable grandchildren by Kathryn Barker.


Kathryn Barker has never met a child, a tea, or a baby animal she didn’t love. With her Sweet Husband of 43 years, she has: raised three extraordinary children, doctored all manner of farm animal, driven a team of horses, made soap, spun wool and opened a tea room. An avid photographer, Kathryn has had tea in a ger in Mongolia, viewed the Three Gorges Dam in China and waved to the Queen of England. She maintains a tea booth at the Oregon St. Antique Mall. Visit her at www.tea4kate.com or on Facebook and Twitter at tea4kate.
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30 Responses

  1. Avatar Larry says:

    If I may? Parents keep this in mind,children learn by example.

    • Avatar Scott says:

      I couldn't agree more. I'm shocked and saddened on a daily basis by how many "adults" in this community appear to have zero sense of social decorum—including the parents at my children's schools, where too many crowd the sidewalks rather than walking to the right, slam doors in your face, fail to say please and thank you, cut in front of people, etc. When my kids come home complaining of similar problems with their peers—and worse—I'm hardly surprised (and thankful that my wife and I are sticklers about manners and being responsible members of society in general, despite occasional protests from our kids). The apple obviously doesn't fall far from the tree…

      • Avatar Kate says:

        Scott…I hear you! I am not quite sure why there is such a lack of concern for good manners, but really appreciate parents like you and your wife! Keep up the good work!

    • Avatar Kate says:

      Very good point Larry! I'm surprised, not often, but once in awhile, by grownups…parents….who are either unaware or choose NOT to practice a few of these basic social graces! Thanks for reading and for responding!

  2. Avatar Hollis Pickett says:

    I have no doubt that my mother's biggest shock EVER was when, as a twenty-something, I thanked her for teaching me good manners as a child. I had realized by then that good manners and some sense of social grace and appropriate behavior allowed me to mingle with any crowd without the fear of embarrassing either myself or someone else. Parents who are trying to make sure that doors will open for their children would do well to note this simple way to provide opportunity for them.

    • Avatar Kate says:

      Hollis, it sounds like your mother and I share a common speechless moment. When our son was about twenty-two, he called home from college just to thank us for having "rules." Said rules included good manners.

      You are so right…good manners do open doors. Thank you for pointing this out.

  3. Avatar AJ says:

    There . . . right there, is the crux of the matter. GOOD MANNERS OPEN DOORS!! You never know when that position you so longly want or recommendation you so desperately need can become available or not with the simple use of "please" and "thank you!" Parents, (and grandparents) think of it as giving your kids yet another key with which to unlock those important doors.

    • Avatar Kate says:

      AJ…I like the idea of picturing good manners as a "key" to open or unlock doors…good imagery! Thanks for sharing.

  4. don williams don williams says:

    I could add 1 (unless I missed it) hold the door open for someone behind you. I learned these lessons when I was young, and hopefully I still follow them. If I not you do have my permission to slap my hand. And always offer a lady your seat (if you are a gentleman) young or old.

    • Avatar Kate says:

      Holding the door open for someone following is a great one to add to the list. It seems like offering your seat to a lady or opening any door (car or otherwise) isn't part of good manners anymore. Thanks for the additions!

  5. don williams don williams says:

    And it's "do" not. Sometimes I type to fast and do not read before I submit.

  6. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    I am a stickler for manners, and I am proud that the grandchildren are all polite little citizens because of their polite parents. When I was growing up, I was taught that there was no excuse to be dirty or to have bad manners. Soap is cheap, and good manners are free. I do believe that I have repeated that phrase a time or two.

    If each individual is courteous to one another, life is much more pleasant. Someone offering to help, hold a door, or lending a hand is really quite simple but very much appreciated. I have been very pleasantly surprised lately with friendly and polite people. . . a refreshing change.

    THANK YOU for the reminder, Kate!

    • Avatar Kate says:

      Grammalyn, I hadn't heard, "Soap is cheap, and good manners are free." I'm going to incorporate it into my collection of "sayings!" My mother had lots of them, but this wasn't one.

      Thank you for being a stickler for good manners. The world is a better place when we care about one another…and that's really what it's all about!

    • Avatar AJ says:

      Lynn . . THAT one's a keeper. Soap is cheap and good manners are free!!! Gotta remember to use that . . . the saying, that is.

  7. Avatar Kirsten says:

    I am DELIGHTED to hear that there still are a few people out there, who not only have, but actually practise COMMON SENSE and with a dash of kindness. That really is what good manners consist of. You help each other by opening a door, you speak respectfully so others can participate, and you wait your turn. Not really that complicated.

    I have recently heard horror stories about a 2 1/2 your old, who was allowed to (and encouraged to) interrupt any adults at any time. Adults were encouraged to NOT eat any food the child might want, for fear she would demand it! In other words: there were no limits, and therefore no secutity.

    The household was tyrannized by this child. Or rather: by parents who did not have respect for others, and who damned the poor child to misery, once it was out in the real world. I'll tell you for sure that I wouldn't put up with that for over 5 seconds! But had this otherwise smart child been given the gift of good manners, she would have get much further in life. Hopefully, somewhere she will run into a responsible adult.

    • Avatar Kate says:

      Kristen, you're so right, it isn't complicated, but it does take dedication and paying attention. Now that our children are all in their thirties, or close to it, I can see the results of our hard work to teach them good manners and responsibility…and they have realized the benefits too.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you have a great weekend!

  8. Avatar Al says:

    My wife has no manners and it is really hard trying to teach my kids goods manners but they are slowly getting there. Last year I got into trouble with my mother in law when I complained to her about my wifes lack of manners. She responded that "she didn't learn that from her" and I responded "maybe that is the problem". Yes we are still married and I have noticed my mother in law doesn't have any manners either. So now I am trying to teach my wife manners as well as my kids manners. My kids are easier, with my wife sometimes it like walking bare foot on broken glass.

  9. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Kathryn…A lot of store clerks, who want customers to return could also use some Miss Manner's lessons also. "There you go", doesn't get it with me when getting change back. And counting back that change followed with Thank You, have a nice day, goes along way too. Clerks should also look that customer in the eyes, smile and say, how are you today ? Repeat customers expect it and deserve that respect from the service rep.

    Thank you for reminding us Kathryn and have a nice day!


    • Avatar Kate says:


      I have noticed some stores are more diligent in training their employees to interact with customers in a courteous fashion. I tend to favor shopping in those stores.

      Thanks for reading and commenting and hope you have a fabulous weekend!

    • Avatar CoachBob says:

      I'll weigh in on this….re: clerks and "have a nice day". Probably the most overused, useless thing anyone can say in a business setting. Represents very poor management/leadership. Clerks, and especially restaurant chashiers, should be instructed to ask the customer to return. "Thanks for joining us today, I hope to see you back soon", sure beats the hell outta "have a nice day". It's so lame.

      And, regarding opening doors. I was taught early to open doors…for either sex. But my pet peeve is middle aged and older women who walk through a door, oblivious to anyone behind

      them, and let it slam in the trailing persons face. Too used to having doors opened for them is my guess. Lazy and rude. Teach your kids to open all doors for all people.

      Thanks for reading this far, and I hope to see you back soon!


      • Avatar Kate says:

        Thank you Coach Bob for your comments…and I agree…open the door and look behind you…someone might be following!

  10. Avatar david kerr says:

    Children are like a video camera which is always on. They notice everything. It is more what you do than what you say. Grandparents and other family members provide information which is noted and processed by children.

    Children with better social skills are treated differently by teachers, friends, other students, employers. A boy who doesn't know when to look someone in the eye and how to shake hands will lose out on a job interview or college admissions interview.

    Upper class and upper middle class child rearing is very different. It is so sad to see children on the path to failure from the examples they see and the level of conversation between parents and child.

    TV sets a very poor example. The smart mouth humor which works so well on TV does not work elsewhere.

    • Avatar Kate says:


      Children do notice and will emulate our behavior. I do think gentle reminders are helpful too. Sometimes we're so absorbed or nervous, we forget to introduce someone or open a door…and it helps to be surrounded by others who give us a hand along the way.

      Thanks for your interest! Have a great weekend!

  11. Avatar LovestoEat says:

    What a delightful list.

    wouldn't it be wonderful if it were given to new

    parents as they left the hospital with their new

    bundle of joy? kinda of a homework assignment?

    manners do matter.

  12. Avatar Kate says:


    Love the idea…or maybe it could be given out at baby showers?

    Thanks for sharing your idea. Have a wonderful day!

  13. Avatar Cindy O'Leary says:

    Great tips, Kate. It's funny, I never remember being "taught" those skills, but they certainly were part of our family life. I think back then it was part of everyone's culture. I think it is a great list to give new parents and even for teachers to give their students. What a difference it would make in our society if everyone practiced these simple rules.

    • Avatar Kate says:


      Thanks for your thoughts. So true, I think most of our parents were quite concerned about our manners…and made sure we practiced them! I had the most amazing experience at Barnes & Noble the other day. I was going into the store and a young man, (probably twelve or younger) unaccompanied by an adult, stepped up and opened the door for me…I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated his good manners. What a joy to be treated so kindly!

  14. Avatar Phionah says:

    this surely has been a thrill to read, and my! such a wonderful list, next baby shower idea.
    In my home, there are rules and i am so glad for that and also to the various schools i attended, they really did instill in us the value of good manners. we even had old girls of the school give lectures on etiqutte every wednesday of every week. cherised them.