With three sons and one daughter, it’s important that I set aside some time to connect and teach Dylan How to be a Lady. Even if you’re raising a tomboy (which I am), every mom needs to hone in on some refining skills to polish your rough and tough little girl. There is nothing wrong with your daughter playing with sticks and bugs, but at the end of the day, you still want to raise her to be gracious, kind and polite.

girl standing against blue background

I could remember as a little one myself, when I did something that wasn’t lady-like, my grandmother would tell me, looking me straight in the eye: “Little ladies don’t do that.”

I find it crucial today to raise a young lady who is courteous to others, aware of where she is, and is able to know how she should and shouldn’t behave. Having manners is very important in our family, after all, we are a military family, and to add, my husband was raised in the South.

So who better to turn to for advice than my polished Southern friends in Wilmington, NC. With years of experience, I think they all went to Emily Post Grad School and majored in Jackie O. refinement. There are no better women to show you how to raise girls with manners than these women. And my go-to girl is Tracee Meyer who has seen great success first hand with her business, Cape Fear Cotillion.

The word cotillion was first used in 18th-century France and England to describe a group dance that is considered to be a forebearer of the square dance.

kids playing

father daughter talking

Turn to the Pros For How to Be a Lady

Recently, I had a babysitter speak to me with such poor manners that I was a little taken back. When I reminded her to be at my house on a Saturday at a certain time, she would respond with a “Yep.” I do not want my girls (or my boys for that matter!) to talk that way to people, never mind those that are employing you.

Sadly, she never showed up to work and never reached out to apologize. I found that to be worse than not showing up. I would think at the least a nice heartfelt apology would be coming my way. Instead, I got nothing. It was really shocking that this young girls manners we this absent and she had no regard for our family.

That’s when I knew I had to tap into my resources (Tracee to the rescue!) to make sure Dylan never acts this way. After all, there’s something gracious about a lady. She stands out without doing so on purpose. Her life speaks louder than her words and there’s a gentle humility that others are drawn to. And that is exactly what I would like for my Dylan. That’s why I turned to the etiquette coach experts for some sound advice.

Check out all my parenting tips over on the City Girl Gone Mom Pinterest board!

smiling girl
jumping girl

7 Must-Know Tips For How to Raise Your Daughter to be a Lady From the Cape Fear Cotillion

Be the Example

It’s a fact that children repeat what they see. They soak everything up like sponges. It seems like common sense that if mom and dad have manners then that’s great. If they don’t then they are in for a rude awakening. We try very hard to be stellar examples for our little girl.

Watch Your Words

Sure our kids argue, but if my little girl uses words that will hurt her brothers we nip it in the bud right on the spot. We encourage using nice words with compliments and praise. We never want her hurting other people with her words.

Being Sweet and Graceful

You want your daughter to always display confidence, be sweet and graceful. What we think of when we think of a true lady. I have seen the opposite and it’s scary when girls come over that jump off the walls breaking toys and being rude. I really am perturbed when I see this behavior in children, but then again it’s not my child and the mom seems to allow this. We are the parents and the sooner we parent and teach kind and graceful behavior, the better off they will be in society.

mother and daughter

Clothes Matter

This one is hard for me because I dress very boho chic. So naturally, she wants to dress like her mommy and I am okay with that. As long as it’s an appropriate dress and not revealing, she can be my mini-me. But if you want her to look like Jackie O., you better get to Neiman Marcus and start dressing the part.

Either way, you still want to encourage her to be herself. According to my friend and cotillion expert, Tracee: “It’s okay to have individuality and dress the way you want, as long as it’s appropriate to what you are attending and always bring your manners to the table.”

Be Affirming With Your Words

A little lady in the making needs to be taught character. We try to praise with positive feedback. I can see it in her eyes how those positive words make her light up. She loves to make her mama proud!

Encourage a Good Attitude

Of course, every child can exhibit a bad attitude. It’s up to us as parents to nip that one right away. No one will ever notice how cute your kid is or her true beauty if she walks around with a bad attitude. Tell her it’s not okay and you won’t go on with the day until she loses the ‘tude.


Understanding Her Actions

Make sure she knows her actions have consequences.

I have seen girls act like tyrants before and 9 out of 10 times there are no consequences. I have seen girls set off home alarms, break other people’s toys, act completely inappropriately and the parents still do nothing. It’s alarming and not good to allow your kids to behave this way. Parents should leave with their child if they act this way. They should remove their child from the home they are visiting and teach them it’s not appropriate to behave this way next time.

mother and daughter walking on rocks
brother and sister

Additional Tips and Lessons For How to be Ladylike

Tracee Meyer, owner of Cape Fear Cotillion adds, “Having good manners, to me, is not just about which fork you use. It’s about making others feel comfortable around you. And treating everyone with kindness and respect.”

Tracee kindly and graciously gave me a few more pointers to add to my arsenal of good habits for my little lady and I think you’ll love them too!

Communicate with Style

Communication is part of social skills. It is needed in every aspect of your life. 

– Set an example. It does matter what people think. First impressions are extremely hard to change.
– Graciously greet those around you, smile!
– Be on time and respectful of others’ time.
– Make sure everyone feels included.

Poise = Promise

– Ladies are polite.
– Hold doors for others, help those in need.

Be a Great Host or Guest

– No tattling, unless it’s emergency or if someone is in danger.
– Offer something to drink to your guests whether it is a dinner party or just a friendly visit.
– Clean up before you leave. Do not leave the host to clean your mess.

Table Manners

A classy woman has good table manners. The dinner table is an excellent place to see an exemplary woman and a positive social interaction. There are a few etiquette rules for the table.  

– Always wait for everyone to be served, and until the host begins, to start eating.
– Place a napkin in your lap as soon as you are seated. Do not use your napkin as a towel.
– When there is one of something left, offer it to others before taking it for yourself.
– Silverware should never touch the tablecloth after being used. You may place them on the edge of your plate. When finished, diagonal across your plate.
– Sit until you are excused.

Cotillion is typically a season of etiquette classes for middle-school aged children that ends with a final dinner-dance where they get to show off what they’ve learned.

girl playing guitar

daddy daughter walking

Appearance For Raising A Lady

Good hygiene and a clean appearance are important for young ladies. Nails should be clipped and clean and clothing should be neat and pressed. Of course, you can have your own individual style AND be dressed appropriately for the occasion. For example, if you’re going to an interview, party or meeting someone’s parents, put more effort into your dress. Flip flops and jeans won’t do.

Putting effort into your appearance tells the person you are meeting that they are important to you and shows respect. When first meeting, all we have to judge someone on is their appearance. Make sure you’re off to a good start right from the beginning.

Have you listened to my podcast? Check out The Mom Confidential!

Until modern times, every class in society was distinguished from each other by its own strict and insurmountable codes of dress, behavior and etiquette.

girl reading alone

girl looking out window

Remembering to Always Be a Lady

If you are local to Wilmington, NC, there are plenty of upcoming classes at Porters Neck Country Club, Pine Valley Country Club and Wrighstville Beach Rec. for ages three and up. Visit the Cape Fear Cotillion website to register! Thank you Tracee for such useful tips!

It’s not easy to teach our little girls how to be little ladies when the world models something very different. But, as a mother, your influence is profound and relentless. Your girl looks up to you and longs to fill your shoes. So be the role model she so deserves. I would love to hear how you’re raising your little ladies!

 New silverware is used for each course to prevent the flavor from your salad dressing transferring to your next dish. It’s crass to lick your fork or wipe it on a napkin, so you are given separate forks for the salad, entrée, and dessert.

quote on manners
mom and daughter laughing


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13 thoughts on “Teaching Your Daughter How To Be A Lady”

  1. Omg! My last comment got lost!! Anyway– Dylan is a wonderful example of this ; behaving like a lady and yet not having to sacrifice her individuality, style and even ‘Tom-boyed-ness’;) It’s not a double standard as I also know it’s just as important to raise our future gentleman (I read your post on this too;-)) I hope these rituals do not become old fashioned either; but remain classic. I know it’s not always easy to be consistent but I think it’s fun to incorporate these ideas into practical and fun objectives; like letting them choose which dishes to use, to offer beverages/bites to visiting guests. Also great to come up with appropriate ice-breakers (for more naturally shy little hostesses in training) to help break the ice in any situation. It may sound contrived but it’s nice to have s basic plan to help set up great habits moving forward;-)

  2. My post was deleted too?
    I love this post and I love the above comment about helping children host! These are wonderful suggestions and tips about how to help raise sweet little ladies. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that are actions speak louder than words. Maybe I need to get out of my yoga pants a little more often ? Great post ladies!!!! ?

  3. This is spot on! I’m always taken back by lack of manners and respect from kids as well as adults! Love that you are passing down important life lessons.

  4. Great post D! All is line with Girl Scout way. I remind our girls regularly that I don’t expect them to close friends with everyone, that is not possible as we wouldn’t want them to accept mediocracy, but we do expect them to be polite and conduct themselves appropriately. “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

    Can we get Cape Fear Cotillion out to San Diego, CA :).

  5. I came across this in a search. My daughter is from a broken/ abusive home. Father not in picture at this time. Never was really around other kids except her brother who is on the spectrum. Shes having some problems with boundries with boys and now that shes older Im getting worried. Nothing like kissing or anything just attaching herself to them and being bossy and not stopping when someone is uncomfortable. What would you advise?

  6. Thanks for sharing. I am so grateful, appreciative, and thankful that my parents, grandparents, elderly relatives and teachers taught me how to be a lady with dignity and outstanding lady like manners!
    I came across this article doing research about teaching young girls to be lady like which also help them to understand the tasks that goes along with their gender, because I begin to notice that many young girls are not taught by their mothers, who are their primary role model how to behave, talk, and think like a lady!
    Consequently, I have observed that many girls today due to not being taught how to be lady like by their Moms and raised around mostly boys lack lady like mannerisms and behave more like the boys they are raised around. Additionally, I have heard and listened to Moms, Dads, grandparents, aunts, & uncles, call their daughters and nieces boys and tell them that they act and/or look and think like a boy or boys!
    Sadly, such relatives and Moms do not realize that they are writing the gender prescription and characteristics for their daughter to act and behave like, as they evolve and develop through the stages of development! Boy should definitely be taught how to behave, dress, and act like a real gentleman with dignity class and good manners too! Moms, has the task to teach their sons to be manly too. Dad’s are not always around nor available. There are also organizations that teach boys how to become outstanding men! Likewise, organizations to teach girls to become outstanding ladies with outstanding equieets!

    I sincerely appreciate you sharing your statement! I definitely passed it on too many Mothers that I know!

  7. Interesting perspective on raising daughters to be confident and respectful. Your insights on teaching manners and fostering independence are valuable for parents navigating this journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important topic!


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