Teaching Good Manners: 5 Tips
Loving parents understand the importance of nurturing good manners in their children. Socially acceptable behaviour, or good manners, allows us to get along with others. Children who learn good manners early know how to deal with different and complex interactions in the course of growing up and in their adult life.
Here are some helpful techniques for teaching your child good manners:
1. Start Small
Ideally, parents should start to teach their children basic manners as soon as they can speak. To effectively teach a toddler good manners, start with the basics such as teaching him to say “thank you”, “please”, “I am sorry”. Most toddlers will learn these important phrases in just a couple of weeks. The rule of thumb is to be consistent with the lessons so that the young child will internalize these words and start to use them appropriately. For example, every time your 2 year old asks for a glass of water, ask her to say please and when you give it to her, remind her to say thank you. Consistency and repetition will see your toddler start to say “peez”, “I sorry” and “thanks” as part of her day-to-day interactions.
2. Use Teachable Moments
Whether you are looking to nurture good manners in your toddler or older children, make use of the natural opportunities to teach what social acceptable behaviour is. For example, if your 5 year old is playing and he shoves one of his friends to the ground, explain to him why it is not polite to shove others and then ask him to say sorry to his friend. If you overhear your teenage daughter telling someone in the store to ‘move,’ remind her that it is respectful to say “Excuse me,” instead of “Move.” When you take immediate action to teach good manners, your children will understand the importance of etiquette and they are likely to observe their behaviour when they interact with others.
3. Correct Courteously
Bad manners can irk out even the calmest of parents. Nevertheless, refrain from shaming your child when he forgets his manners. Do not force him to say sorry to his friend; just ask him to do it politely and if he does not, talk to him privately about his behaviour and calmly explain the importance of saying sorry when he hurts someone. Shaming your child when he forgets his manners can trigger rebellion as the child may see good manners as a threat and not as something good and necessary.
4. Eat Together
It is amazing how the family table can be a place where children learn social etiquette. By eating together regularly, you and your children can practice socially acceptable behaviour amongst each other. At the table, children practice how to say, “Please, pass me…”, “Thank you,” and other polite phrases. Additionally, your children are able to learn about posture- a non-verbal cue that has a social implication. The table, unlike the couch, makes it possible for everyone to sit straight, to listen to others and to focus on being respectful.
5. Walk Your Talk
Your child will learn about courtesy from mommy and daddy. Start to treat your child with respect by using polite phrases when addressing her, by listening and not interrupting and by talking calmly to her. It is also important for mom and dad to treat each other and others with respect so that their children can pick the cue that good manners is important when interacting with others. Remember that courtesy starts at home.