Long before I became a mother, I made a list of basic manners I thought my child, and all children, for that matter should have. My list went well beyond “please” and “thank you”.
Every child wants to be well liked, and every parent wants children who can get along well in the school, social, and work arenas. The secret to this is good manners, which do not materialize on their own. Like proper hygiene, good manners must be instilled from the beginning, until they become habit.
Teaching a toddler to say “please” and “thank you” evolves into the preschooler’s “excuse me,” and the child’s “I’m sorry,” right up to the teen’s college application letter. The confidence that accompanies social skills will stand adults in good stead throughout their lives.
Here are a few of the items on my list and some simple tips for improving social behavior and good character in your youngster.
Many children are not aware of their bad manners and must be taught not only what not to do, but given examples of what to do instead.
Let children know in advance what manners are expected of them in certain social situations. Younger children can benefit from a role-play what they might expect.
Expect Good Manners
Expect children to use the good manners they have been taught. If a child persists in demonstrating bad manners, give him alternatives to their behavior, such as a time out or removal from the situation.
Consistency is key when it comes to most parenting techniques. If you require good manners every day, over time they will become second nature to children.
If a child is acting rude, lead him away from the situation and briefly correct him. Let him know you appreciate and love him, the briefly explain why his behavior was impolite and offer ways he can behave better, that way you can send him back into the situation prepared to change.
Praise Good Behavior
Always praise a child for using good manners or when you see them being polite. Positive reinforcement lets children know that it is the kind of behavior you expect and appreciate.
Establish Zero Tolerance and Politeness Policies
Establish a zero tolerance policy for indoor and outdoor behavior like pushing, not sharing, interrupting,Ã‚Â and bullying.
Establishing a politeness policy in conjunction with your zero tolerance policy will give children clear examples of what is considered acceptable and good manners. For example, let children know that no request is considered unless they say “please” and that you expect a “thank you” after a kind deed.
Role Model Good Manners
If you want your children to have good manners and show respect, you have to model appropriate behavior yourself. Reinforce your politeness policy by saying “please” and “thank you”.
Admit your mistakes and apologize. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. You will be amazed how quickly your children will behave in kind with each other, and with the adults in their life.
Teaching proper manners and etiquette to children is ongoing and is best performed on a daily basis. When children have models of good manners to pattern themselves after, they are much more likely to adopt good manners themselves.
Photo credit: mabith