13 Lessons About Manners to Teach Your Children
We have all heard the saying that children are like sponges, they soak up everything they see or hear and are influenced by things around them. For this reason, manners are something that children need to be shown, taught and reinforced by adults.
When thinking about teaching your children manners, you need to consider what is age appropriate and whether your child is able to follow what you are teaching them. You also need to consider the different types of manners expected from those around them.
For example, peers expect something different to older family members and they will also need to be taught, what bad manners are so that they do not emulate them from others. Here are some of the best tips to do that:
1. Teach Them the Words
Every child’s vocabulary needs to consist of these five polite phrases and words:
- Excuse me
- Thank you
- No thank you
- May I
Try and use these phrases and words at all times when speaking to children toddlers and even babies. Children begin to parrot these words from an early age and understand when to use them, even if they may not yet understand exactly what they mean.
It is hard to believe that you begin to teach children manners from birth, and the crux of good manners is to respect others and this comes from being sensitive.
Sensitivity to other’s feelings is therefore one of the most important aspects that you can teach your child from infancy. A sensitive child will be respectful and that should automatically lead to a well-mannered child. You, of course want to teach children to be assertive and independent, but not in place of being polite, respectful and using good manners.
3. Modelling Manners
If you expect your child to have good manners then you need to make sure that you display these good manners too because it’s a hypocritical assumption to make that they should do as you say, not as you do.
Your children will model your biases. If you hold strong views about something or someone, try to avoid doing this publicly or it will create subconscious prejudices. It is important to teach your children not to judge anyone by their nationality, religion, race or gender. Teach your children to judge based on characteristics and another person’s behaviour instead.
The crux of good manners is to respect others and this comes from being sensitive
5. Have Patience
By nature, most children are self-centred. As a parent it is down to you to change this and teach your children the importance of respecting other people’s feelings and needs.
Do not expect your children to pick up using good manners through the art of telepathy. Children need to be taught rules which you can put down together in writing or perhaps include the use of manners in fun activities. It’s the repetitiveness of this teaching that makes it stick!
We like to feel that we are listened to and that is especially the case when it comes to our dreams, goals and desires. As a parent help your child to develop their everyday interpersonal skills as nobody likes someone that is rude or obnoxious.
Take time to sit down and listen to the areas that your child struggles with when mixing with others and help them find ways to express themselves without trampling others in the process.
8. Table Manners
It’s all about the table manners! Make sure as a family you sit down, explain, show and teach these because it can be frustrating but worth it in the long run!
Things like, not starting eating until everyone is sitting down, saying grace if that suits your family and things like chewing with your mouth closed or not talking when eating.
9. Use positive reinforcement
All children love praise and even more so when it comes from a parent or a person that they respect. Too often parents respond to negative behaviour and forget the positive ones.
This may not work in your favour as children do not care about the reason why they get attention, as long as they get it. For this reason, praise your child when they are polite and use good manners to positively reinforce the behaviour you want.
10. Name Calling
We always make an effort to use a first name when we speak to our children e.g. ‘ James please will you pass me….?’
For this reason our children pick up this nicety and address us similarly for example, ‘Mum, please can I have…?’ This will help your children long-term to appreciate the identity of others and make the effort to get to know them.
11. Speak Well
The way we speak is important. Quite often we use language towards our children that we do not want them to copy and that doesn’t include swearing or bad language, it could be as simple as poor grammar or colloquialisms.
The best rule of thumb is to avoid saying anything you wouldn’t want to hear from your child’s mouth!
It is common for young children to not be aware of what they are doing, for instance if you are chatting to an adult, a child may think it is okay to interrupt.
So, you need to teach your child that this is inappropriate. Make sure that you don’t stop what you are doing to give them what they want, simply and calmly ask them to wait and let them know you will discuss whatever they need when you are finished.
The saying ‘children should be seen and not heard’ was probably made by a person who did not have any children. Try and include your child in the things you are doing as adults because if you try and exclude them, it should come as no surprise when they begin to play up.
Even a child who is generally well mannered may become a nuisance in order to get your attention. By including your child, you teach them new social skills and show them that they are valued which is what they will portray onto others.
Manners are obviously important, but as parents we need to remember that it is about the underlying messages that we are teaching our children as well as the “please” and “thank yous”.