Teaching children manners, beyond the simple please and thank you, can be challenging. It requires constant reminders, and steady reinforcement on what proper manners look like. Telling them once and expecting it to stick just isn’t enough. It is key to praise them when they use their manners properly.
Children are watching and paying attention all the time, so it is crucial to practice the behavior you want them to mimic. You can’t expect your children to have good manners if you aren’t being a good role model for them.
Use your manners
There are several manners that I view as important for my children to learn, once they master basic etiquette like please, thank you, sir, and ma’am.
- Telling someone “My name is ____, nice to meet you”: A child that introduces themselves makes a good first impression. Teaching your child to introduce themselves helps insure that they won’t be overlooked.
- Don’t slurp your soup: When trying to teach table manners to my children, I often feel like Belle attempting to teach the Beast how to properly hold a spoon and not gobble up his food. When teaching table manners, I focus on the following:
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Don’t talk with your mouth full.
- Put your napkin on your lap for easy use.
- Use utensils instead of your fingers.
- Say “I’m sorry”: It is invaluable to teach children to show empathy and how to take responsibility for their actions when they have made a mistake.
- Social skills: Teaching children to not interrupt when someone else is talking is perhaps the hardest manner to learn, even for adults. I try to teach my children to not just be waiting to talk, but instead put on “listening ears” and be an active listener.
- The Golden Rule: Teaching your child to treat others as they want to be treated seems very basic, but it can be challenging. Even if your child’s other manners are still a work in progress, it is important for them to be nice and courteous to others. I try to teach my kids to respect differences, never be a bully, and help others whenever possible.
Reinforcing good manners
Good manners start at home. Reinforcing good manners and correcting bad manners will create a well-mannered child who is set up for social and professional success. Reading books about manners, giving your child the “use your manners” talk before they leave the house, and coming up with a reminder phrase can help reinforce good manners. Before going anywhere, reminding your children about the manners you expect from them is a basic trick to reinforce good behavior.
Do you have any other tips for reinforcing good manners?