The Importance of Etiquette


Thanks to all of you that helped make the Hide and Seek blog hop such a success!  I loved reading all the tips on conducting therapy anywhere (the bathroom, really?) and everywhere (field trips, too!).

Spending time in all of those places and giving thought to what each location has to offer had me considering another, very critical lesson.  The importance of etiquette.

Now I’m not talking about fussy, this fork is for asparagus, and use the name of the elder first in introductions, but conventional etiquette that many of our kiddos don’t naturally pick up that can be the difference between blending (in a good way) and standing out (in a not so good way).  Here are a few locations that might be worth some explicit etiquette instruction.

Let’s start with an easy one–the playground.  The playground allows for loud voices (within reason), exuberant movement and free play.  Most kiddos will welcome these opportunities.  However, there will be plenty of kiddos that struggle with trying to break into a group when structure is missing.  For them, helping to find an activity with more defined “rules,” like kickball or four square, might make more sense than trying to get them to participate in open-ended “movie star” play.

The classroom also tends to be an easier one due simply to the amount of experience kiddos have in them.  There are lots of people and lots of people working which means a need for lower voices (or silence if a lesson/directions are being presented).  Expectations are that you sit at your desk and minimize your movements.

Cafeterias tend to be a bit of a free-for-all and many kiddos don’t like the noise level or other sensory experiences.  You may need to discuss voice volume, the importance of handwashing prior to eating (with a review of how not to contaminate a neighbor’s lunch with your coughing/sneezing) and how or when moving around the room is allowed.  I might take this a step forward and discuss etiquette in restaurants.  How diners have an expectation of behavior that makes dining out a pleasant experience for everyone in the restaurant.  That the waiter usually comes to the table and asks for drink orders first and after those are served, asks for meal orders.  There’s a very standard protocal that you see in local, casual restaurants through to the very fancy.


Libraries are also slightly easier  to discuss because they have strict expectations and are least like other school locations.  Most students will know that silence or quiet is expected, but you can also discuss that you are expected to either locate a book or to sit and read.  There are also standard procedures for returning and checking out books.


I’m beginning to think that a lesson on movie theater etiquette would be good for a huge swath of the population despite the fact that they run those reminder videos before each full feature, but all we can do is mold the movie goer in front of us.  So, time to discuss that watching a movie means just that–watching.  Can we laugh at an appropriate volume when it’s funny?  Of course.  But a full discussion of what you like, how this reminds you of another favorite movie or about something that isn’t related to the movie at all is best saved for when you are outside the comfy chairs.

Pulling together a comparison of several different locations might give kiddos a better perspective on how the term “appropriate behavior” changes.

So you have my thoughts.  Now it’s time to hear yours.  My biggest pet peeve is cell phone conversations in restuarants (that obviously aren’t emergency-from-home kind of calls).  If you were teaching an etiquette class what would you address?


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Heidi Britz

    My pet peeve is two fold: people talking on their cell phones while a cashier is waiting on them (so rude) and electronic devices at the dinner table (public and private)!! Social language must be a theme today, my blog is on social language in the context of political debates 🙂

    1. admin

      I’m intrigued, Heidi! Heading over to check it out!

Comments are closed.


The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.