Every parent wishes for their child to be respectful, courteous, and polite all of the time, not just when Daddy and Mummy are present. Regardless of courtesy drives, we want our children to develop good manners as a part of their character, and we teach them how to do so. However, the harsh reality is that our children absorb much more than what is taught to them. For better or worse, how we handle those around us can influence how our children relate to others. Here are 8 tips for teaching your child good manners.
1. Be consistent
It’s fine to encourage our child to express gratitude to Grandma for the lavish birthday gift, but what about the friend who sends a card? What about the cleaner who cleans your food court table?
Good manners should not be limited to family or close friends, but should be extended to anyone we encounter. It’s about always respecting and appreciating people, no matter their age (or race, language, or religion).
2. Watch your speech
Adult hypocrisy is quickly picked up by children. The kids are listening when you say nice things to your friend but rant to your husband about her flaws in the car. True courtesy isn’t just for show; it’s also what we say and do in private that matters the most. Our children are always watching and listening, and forming their own opinions as a result.
3. Model good manners
Of course, this is easier said than done, but our actions are our children’s best teachers, as shown by the two points above. If we want our children to treat others with politeness, reverence, and grace, we must model it for them. We ought to be role models that others will look up to.
4. Break it down for them
It is critical that we explain to our children why good manners are necessary. We always clearly state our expectations and ask them to comply, but for many children, knowing the “why” behind the request is the most effective form of encouragement.
5. Sincerity is always better than empty praise
Different children may have different ways of expressing gratitude, which may or may not fit into the traditional mold of a respectful “Thank you.” Some children can show their gratitude by hugging or jumping up and down ecstatically. Others can only offer a shy smile and remain silent. This is your child’s most sincere expression of gratitude, and it shouldn’t be dismissed or dismissed as “not proper.”
Enable your child to express his gratitude authentically, in a way that is more real to him, rather than recommending or dictating that he do so in the same way that you do. Meanwhile, your life is an open book for him to pick up on social cues and norms from his age. This way, you’re less likely to get the impression that he’s only going through the motions of “good manners” without really knowing what’s at stake.
6. Do it together
Although you should avoid excessively prescribing any nuance of what constitutes “good manners,” you should come alongside your child to help her learn social norms in real-life situations.
When it’s time to say goodbye to the grandparents, for example, saying “It’s time to go!” may be more convenient. Instead of saying, “We’re leaving now, let’s go say goodbye to Grandma together,” say, “Let’s go say goodbye to Grandma together.” Grandma, it’s time to say your goodbyes.”
7. Show respect
Teaching the children to respect others begins with teaching them to respect themselves. Consider what you say to your child on a regular basis. Do you value their individuality, their decisions, their personalities, and their errors? Do you put too much pressure on them or constantly order them around? Be aware of how your experiences with your child influence how they communicate with others in their environment.
8. Check your expectations
Remember that social skills are difficult to acquire, and that small steps are preferable to none at all. Consider if your standards are reasonable for your child’s age. Your toddler, for example, will learn to say “hello” to relatives when they meet, but you can’t expect him to know how to keep the lift door open for a rushing friend.