Good Manners is a lesson best learned early in life. We all want our children to be respectful, appreciative, and to notice the needs of others around them.
As a parent, I believe one of the most helpful and meaningful things we can do is instill common courtesies and politeness in the children we are charged with raising.
Having good manners was something that was always expected of us when we were growing up. We learned early in life that respect and courtesy directly correlated to your successes in life. Thirty years later, I see that the lessons I learned in respect and basic manners provided many of the opportunities I’ve received.
This is not to say skills are not important, but later in life, I’m certain your kid’s boss would rather groom them for the skills it takes to accomplish a task than hope and pray they aren’t embarrassed by rudeness in the next meeting.
If you do a quick Google search, the resources are by the dozens! There are wonderful children’s books about manners on Amazon, but I dropped a ton of info we’ve used below. All of these are ways we taught Nikolai to use his best manners. It’s doesn’t mean he’s always on target, but he knows what’s expect of him at all times.
Why are Manners Important?
Good manners from a child are a direct reflection on the parents. As a stepmom, I always want to know Nikolai is on his best behavior. Sure, all kids can be punks at times, but what’s taught at home will show itself in social settings sooner or later.
Expressing gratitude, respect and appreciation is the basic foundation for good manners. Please, Thank You, Yes Ma’am/Sir, No Ma’am/Sir, along with table manners are all necessary to learn at a young age.
Examples of Good Manners
- Say please. Self-explanatory, but this shows consideration for others and their efforts.
- Say thank you. Show appreciation and gratitude when receiving.
- Make eye-contact. When a child is speaking with an adult (or anyone), eye contact is a polite way of engaging in conversation and makes the individual more trustworthy. This will also be very handy later on in life for job interviews, etc.
- Be pleasant. Children should engage in conversation with a pleasant demeanor and smile – not hiding behind the parents pouting.
- Make small talk. If your child is old enough to be asked questions, they are old enough to hold a small conversation about school or other interests. It doesn’t have to be about philosophical ideologies, just light conversation with simple answers will do just fine.
- Write Thank You Notes. A dying art! But this is something we’ve chosen to instill in Nikolai. Expressing gratitude for a gift is a wonderful notion, but to take the extra few minutes to write about how much you appreciate the gift is a wonderful way to express gratitude.
- Greeting Others Properly. When a guest enters the home, they should be cheerfully greeted with respect. Making guests feel welcome is part of being a gracious host.
- Waiting a turn. Whether it’s to speak or use a toy, everyone gets a turn. Patiently waiting instead of jerking a toy away or interrupting mid-sentence is most appreciated.
- Courtesy toward others. Teaching to help others is so much of what this world needs! Helping someone who has dropped something or holding the door open for another person is kind and courteous.
- Shake hands. This goes right along with eye-contact. Knowing to return the polite gestures of others is a kind way of expressing gratitude for making the acquaintance.
How to Teach Kids Manners
Kids learn by watching and repeating. Monkey see, Monkey do! Yes, even that word you didn’t mean to say!
From a young age children learn to hug, kiss, hi-five, etc. just by watching the adults around them. Consistency is key when it comes to teaching manners. Like a habit, manners won’t stick unless they are constantly repeated.
A great way to kickstart the habit is to practice during playtime. For example, during a tea party, ask your child to pass the sugar with an excited “please!”. Be sure and say “thank you!” afterward. Incorporating manners into these interactions will help your kid pick up on these gestures and mimic you.
Here are a few ways you can teach your kid manners…
1. Set an Example for good manners
First things first: Be an example for your children. This pretty much goes for everything in life, but most importantly, how you expect your children or stepchildren to behave should be set by example from you!
That means, when you make demands or requests, make sure you are using the “Magic Words”, which are please and thank you! When you show your kids the respect you want from them, they will mimic the behavior in return.
Introducing polite phrases from a young age always helps!
2. Correct politely and quickly
There’s no need to embarrass the poor babe just for forgetting his best manners. Let’s remember that we are likely more embarrassed than our child when they forget the magic words. The more you remind your kids to use their manners, the more apt they are to do so.
Gently prompt him/her when they forget to say “please” or “thank you”, by saying “What do you say?” or “Did you forget the magic words?”.
Remember, we are dealing with kids who often need reminding to wipe. 🙂
3. Be Consistent
Consistency is key. Keep up your good manners and encourage your kids to do so as well. When you see your kids acting in an unmannerly way, remind them of how they are supposed to act in whatever situation they’re in.
Teaching kids manners is easier than you might think. It’s especially important to the success of the child outside of the home – on many levels. Adults appreciate children who can conduct themselves with respect. No one wants to eat out with kids who have terrible table manners or constantly interrupt during conversation.
If your kids see you saying please and thank you and opening doors for others or giving your seat on the bus to someone else, they will do the same. We all need a friendly reminder to do more for others around us.