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How to Teach Good Manners

We all want to raise our child to be polite. Manners don’t cost a thing, but they do take time to learn. It isn’t just something we are born with. While your child is probably loving and kind-hearted already, but manners is a learned skill. They need to be taught what they are and what situations are appropriate to use them, like around the dinner table, which may be crucial during the upcoming holidays. It isn’t just a matter of teaching good manners but also showing and reinforcing the use of manners every day that will show a child that this is the polite way to act. Here is our guide to help.

At what age should I start teaching manners?

From very early on in your child’s life, you can say things like “please” and “thank you” whilst talking to them. You don’t need to expect an answer if they’re not at that stage or for them to even take it all in yet, but it is a good vocabulary to use regularly for sure.

From around ages one to two, you can really start instilling good manners. When playing with your child, use phrases like “Can you please hand me that teddy bear?” and be sure to use words like “May I?”, “Thank you,” and “No, thank you.” Encourage the use of “Excuse me” after a burp or bumping into each other. Another good habit to get into at this age is having your child hand over an empty dish and cup when they are empty or done with them. This helps get them ready for helping clear the table in the future.

From ages three to six, it’s a good time for children to learn to share their toys (and saying, “please” and “thank you” when doing so!) and to keep their hands to themselves. They shouldn’t grab things out of others’ hands. It is also a good idea to have them do child-friendly chores, such as helping set or clear the table.

What are the important manners to know?

As adults, we know manners go a long way beyond words, but teaching your child a few ways to be polite is a good start. Here are some ways your child should learn early on:

  • Saying “please” when asking for something.
  • Saying “Thank you” when something has been received.
  • Not interrupting when adults are talking unless there is an emergency. They should know that they aren’t being ignored and that they are noticed but a grown-up will respond when they’re finished.
  • Saying “excuse me” when they do need to interrupt or have bumped into someone, or even after a burp (which we all know kids do often!)
  • Not saying anything negative about a person, especially the way they look.

There are so many more too! This is only the beginning to the long list of manners we adhere to every day but learning the others will come along.

How should I reinforce good manners?

Positive reinforcement will be the best way forward. Too often we are quick to reprimand bad behavior, but we should always recognize and make a big deal out of practicing good manners. If kids only got attention, even if its negative, when they’re misbehaving, then they will probably do that more often. Also, patience is key. They won’t learn manners overnight. They may forget to say please or thank you every once in a while and it doesn’t mean they are being rude. Have patience and keep persevering!

The meaning behind manners is just as important

It’s easy enough to learn a new phrase to adapt into everyday conversation, but what good are manners if they don’t actually mean anything? They are small words that can mean an awful lot, and not be saying them can be damaging. Saying “please” means you recognize that someone may have to go out of their way, even if just the tiniest bit, to assist. Giving thanks and saying, “thank you” is showing appreciation and gratitude. Having good manners shows you have respect and are keeping others’ feelings into consideration. Children will learn that we say these things to be kind.

Sometimes people don’t practice good manners

As you probably have encountered yourself, your child will be in many situations where others may not be using good manners, are not polite, and maybe sometimes downright rude. Because your child’s brain is like a sponge and they mimic the behaviors around them, it is incredibly important to let them know that this behavior is not okay, and just because a friend from school doesn’t use the same polite approach, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t either.

Be the model

Of course, children are going to be most influenced by how you act, so always use good manners when talking to your child and to everyone else. But don’t think your child will just pick up on good manners by watching you. It is something that has to be both taught and shown.

Practicing good manners is a lifelong habit and should be practiced all the time.

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