How to Teach Your Child Manners

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Kids are born selfish. As babies, the scream until they get what they want. As they turn into toddlers, they may take things without asking. They may throw tantrums to get their way.

But somewhere along the line, we as parents try to instill some manner in our kids.

Why? Because society dictates it.

Manners is not so much about saying the words please and thank you. It’s really more about being sensitive and considerate to the feelings of others.

Think about it for a moment. Manners, like using words like please, thank you and excuse me, show others that we respect their feelings, their space and their actions.

We say please instead of freely taking.

We say excuse me instead cutting people off when they are talking or doing something.

We say thank you to acknowledge someone and let them know we appreciate them.

And while I do think there’s something to be said about teaching our kids to be assertive and going for what they want, I do believe in manners.

My kids do say please when they want something and thank you when they are given something. They say excuse me when others are talking and they need to say something, because people don’t enjoy being interrupted.

I want to make a distinction; I’m talking about manners, not etiquette. Manners are politeness, the behaviors of being polite. Etiquette is the form in which the manners take. Think, elbows off the table and proper table settings. Trust me, my kids have no idea what each fork and spoon is for.

But I do think we live in a society where manners are important. When someone interrupts or speaks in a demanding manner, we tend to call them rude. We say they don’t have manners.

So, going back to kids. They are not born knowing how to be polite or what manners are. They need to be taught. Here’s my “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to teaching kids about manners.

Do model good manners. What you say and do are going to make the biggest difference. If you speak nicely when asking for something, your kids will pick up on it. If you thank people and respond politely, they will mimic those actions too. Alternatively, if you ask by demanding, they will come to think it’s okay to be demanding as well.

Don’t force manners. I know. You WANT your kids to have good manners, but that forcing them to use their polite words isn’t the best way to get there. When someone tells you that you MUST do something, do you still want to do it? For some of us, that task suddenly becomes a chore, something that we’re made to do, regardless if we want to or not. It’s kind of the same thing when forcing your kids to have manners. It becomes forced, not something they do because they want to, but because they feel they have to. Instead, encourage. It makes learning manners more enjoyable for everyone.

Do help kids find the right words. Phrases like “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “no thank you” should be introduced into your childrens’ vocabulary. You can start using these phrases with children as young as infant-age. They may not understand what they mean or when it’s appropriate to use them, but by the time they do, these phrases will become a habit.

Do be consistent. Like with most things in life, and especially with kids, consistency is key.  Having good manners and remembering to use them is going to take repetition, patience and a lot of reminding. Praise your kids when they do use good manners and remind them gently when they don’t. Also, remember to be consistent with your expectations and reminders. If you only remind your kids to use manners in certain situations, it can become confusing for them. Consider it an all or nothing thing.

Don’t wait to correct. Children, especially younger children, don’t really realize what they’re saying or doing. They may not really understand that they’re NOT using manners. But, they may also not quite get it if you wait to correct them. So when situations arise, gently correct them right away. And again, this goes back to repetition and being consistent.

Do practice good manners. You can practice using manners at home. While playing games, ask for objects politely. When having a family conversation, practice saying excuse me when you need to interrupt.  If your child needs extra practice, fill free to make it into a game.

In today’s society, please and thank you go a long way. But manners aren’t something we are born knowing. It’s something we have to learn. Teaching manners to kids really is as easy as setting a good example and being consistent.

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Comments

  1. It is one of the beautiful and the best articles I have ever read on parenting niche. As a parent, it is our duty to guide or teach our children about manners. We should teach them to respect everyone. We should teach the words ‘Thank You’, ‘Please’, ‘Welcome’, etc. Great post!

  2. Even two-year-olds can learn to say “please” and “thank you.” Even though they don’t yet understand the social graciousness of these words, the toddler concludes that “please” is how you get what you want and “thank you” is how you end an interaction.

  3. Wow nice article keep up good work and thanks for sharing.

  4. Hey Corinne,

    It great to be reading your post again. It’s always the best efforts you have put into your content, that’s why it will help many out there looking to learn.

    By the way, Thanks for the great read Corinne.

    ~ Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…Top 5 Best Women’s Lacrosse SticksMy Profile

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