Manners and courtesy have never gone out of style. They have just been neglected.
While humans have devised certain rules of etiquette, the basic principle is found in Scripture: "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them" (Matthew 7:12), also called the Golden Rule. Children learn courtesy and manners by the examples they see and by being taught.
Our daughters both loved a little Golden Book, Raggedy Ann: A Thank You, Please, and I Love You Book. It went out of print, but we managed to keep copies of it. Our daughters could finish the various rhymes about gratitude and courtesy to others. Here are a few of the rhymes:
"People are happy to hear Andy on the phone, because he always says hello in such a friendly tone."
"Here in the sandbox our Andy and Ann share all of their playthings the best way they can."
"Ann won't give Andy a piece of her candy—it's not that she's meaning to tease. He wants it so badly, she'd give him some gladly—but Andy forgot to say PLEASE."
To teach children to say "thank you" when they receive something or have something done for them is to help them be grateful to others in life. Teaching them to share and wait their turn in line also teaches the principle of courtesy. Teaching them to respond with a "yes" or "no" (maybe even a "yes, Sir" or "no, Ma'am," which might seem outdated, but is very respectful) instead of a "yeah" or "nah" or no response will help them show more respect and communicate more effectively.
Showing respect for the elderly by giving them more comfortable places to sit or letting them in line ahead of you also helps teach our children to show respect. This lesson will hold them in good stead when they meet their boss for the first time.
Teaching our children to be friendly and greet others is another way of helping them show love to others. In our families, we should expect our children to want to say good night to their parents with a hug or a kiss. Just disappearing into the bedroom at bedtime is not teaching them to show love.
Parents who teach courtesy, appreciation, love and respect to their children solidify their teaching if they practice showing courtesy, appreciation, love and respect. When our children see us practicing what we teach, they will more easily adopt the Golden Rule as their own.
As that favorite little book concludes, "'I'll give you a bear hug,' says Andy to Ann, and he hugs her and hugs her as tight as he can. 'I love you,' says Ann, getting up on her toes, and she gives him a kiss on the tip of his nose. They are fond of each other, it's easy to see, and the reason is simple as simple can be! They use their good manners wherever they go, and this makes them very nice people to know!"