Does your child ever scream in your face in public? Ignore what you ask him/her to do, or do the exact opposite? Throw a tantrum in the supermarket, rolling and screaming on the floor?
As parents, we are bound to go through similar episodes with our children every now and then, simply because “kids will be kids”. However, this behavior might get worse with time if we just let it be and don’t react.
Learning manners is a crucial first step to a child’s sense of respect of others. I don’t know about you, but I find it maddening to see rude and disrespectful children who reach their teenage years and still haven’t learned the basics of good manners. I also find it sad, because not many people would tolerate them at school or university, and even less in the workplace when they become full-grown adults.
Let’s keep our children away from such drawbacks, by teaching them some basic manners… and these manners start at home.
1- Saying Please, Excuse Me and Thank you
Being a child is no excuse for not using polite words. On the contrary, the earlier the child begins the good habit, the better he/she understands its importance.
Children can be reminded of these polite (or “magic”) words in different ways, like not giving them what they are asking for until they say the right word. Make this a repetitive process, and they will quickly realize what the missing word is.
Don’t forget that children imitate their parents, so the best way for them to adopt polite words is by hearing us use them with everybody.
2- Chewing With Their Mouth Closed
It is usually fine for children to chew with their mouth open until the age of three. But from then on, they will need to get used to closing their mouths while they eat. Explaining why also helps, like, for example, that it makes noise and bothers people around them.
3- Answering When Someone Says Hello
Many children are shy around adults, and simply try to avoid greeting people back. Although we don’t need to make a fuss about their shyness or force them to talk, it is always good to gently encourage them to “be nice” or “show some respect” by returning the greetings, at least to someone we know, and especially extended family members!
4- Cleaning Up Their Mess
Whether after playtime or a hearty meal, our children will almost inevitably leave a space dirty and untidy. Time for them to learn to clean up their mess, and not just because we might need help with the cleaning. Through this habit, children as young as 3 not only gain tidiness and organization skills, but they also develop a sense of responsibility after having completed a task, even one as easy as tidying up the playroom or putting a toy back in its box. Giving them these small duties can help them grow to be responsible and able to handle larger tasks in the future.
Moreover, this activity can easily be turned into a fun event when it’s complemented with music, singing and dancing or even jumping around. And it gets even better if we do it together as a team.
5- Interrupting No More!
Most children will instinctively interrupt us simply because they have something to say — and have never had to wait for their turn. In fact, their needs have always been prioritized as babies, so it’s only natural for them not to know otherwise and keep interrupting what we might be saying or doing (just as they did as babies).
It wasn’t until my sons grew up a bit that I made them understand that what they had to say was no longer the only priority; that from then on, they had to wait until others finished speaking, or ask for permission to interrupt if it was urgent.
It is important for us to let our children understand early on that rude behavior will not be tolerated — neither by us, nor by society when they grow up. These few simple steps are a great start for little ones to acquire good manners, learn about mutual respect and consideration, and become better adults.
Let us all teach our children manners properly, and take a giant leap towards building a respectful and considerate generation.