It has been said by some that children are like sponges, they tend to soak up everything and every influence around them. Although Sociologists maintain that manners are unenforceable, it is very obvious that these standards or norms of behavior, if reinforced, can become a way of living for any child or adult. The key to teaching children to behave mannerly, as little ladies and gentlemen is instruction. Although we do not see as many 'Finishing Schools' thriving in our culture, teaching your child proper social grace, etiquette, intercultural competence, morality, politeness and more will go a long way toward aiding his or her success in life both socially and in business. Employers, friends, family and more like classy people. The mannerly person not only impresses others, but he or she is quick to commend another on their behavior. Manners are about respect and honor for self and for others.
- Model manners. If you want your child to model manners, you must make sure you do as well. This is definitely not an area in which you can get them to do as you say and not as you do. First step to having a mannerly child is being a mannerly parent.
- Practice at home. It is unrealistic for your child to just pick up the habit of good manners by telepathy. He or she needs to have lots of practice in the fine art of social graces. Take time to engage in role playing with your son or daughter. For instance, practice how to be courteous when using the telephone.
- Give him or her the words.There are 5 words that should be among the first in every child's primary vocabulary. These should be used while speaking to children as young as 6 months old. Try this when your infant, toddler or young child tries to grab something from you, you withhold the item and direct them to ask politely. You say to them something like, "Say please." Or with an older child you might direct him or her to use the whole sentence and "Say, mom, may I please have a piece of cake?" Here are Five phrases that your child must master 'Thank you.' 'Please?' 'May I …' 'Excuse me.' And 'No, thank you.' No exceptions-these are required.
- Give your youngster positive reinforcement. Children love praise; especially when it comes from a parent or loved one. Very often parents respond only to their children's undesirable behavior, ignoring their victories and positive actions completely. This choice may actually have the reverse result. Children want attention anyway they can get it-even if that means doing bad things. Encourage.
- Be patient. It is true that most children are self-centered by nature. Every parent recognizes this very early in the parenting charge. Again stay encouraged, just as with anyone learning how to do what is right, children need time to understand how to be mannerly. Teach them the importance of respecting others' feelings and needs and you will go a long way toward achieving this end. As they learn to listen more, speak less, esteem others and humble themselves their golden rule behavior will begin to shine forth.
- Learn to coach.The field of Life Coaching is becoming more popular and needful. Many people are finding that they need someone to not only hold them accountable but to listen to their dreams, desires and assist them in goal setting. Help your child to establish social goals that will better equip him or her for daily interpersonal communication and interaction. It is no secret that people don't really like to be around others who are rude and obnoxious. No parent wants this for their child. Make a point to sit down and talk with them and listen to areas of struggle they may have when interacting with other people.
- Teach table manners.If you need help with learning which fork to use and where your napkin goes, we can help you here at About.com or there are many great manners and etiquette books available to assist you in getting it right. Once you understand the rules be sure to share them with your son or daughter.
- Correct him or her on the spot. Very young children often times don't realize what they are doing. For example, if you are speaking with a friend and your child interrupts you. Beg your friend's pardon and let your child know that his or her interruption is inappropriate. Or if your child calls an adult by his or her first name, take the moment to correct him or her. Make sure you use sensitivity in these types of situations. If you have an overly sensitive child you might want to excuse yourself and speak with him or her privately.
- Speak well.Speech habits are so important. Often parents may sabotage their children's speech patterns by using slang and lazy habits themselves. Again, this is an area in which you need to model the correct behavior. Unless you want your child to speak in a sloppy, slang-ridden way, be well-spoken yourself.
- Lose the prejudices. Your children are going to model your biases. If you hold strong opinions about a particular group or person, you should not make this a public point. No one has the right to interfere with the perfect liberties we hold as Americans, however, you don't want to perpetuate intercultural prejudices. Teach your children to judge a person by the 'content of their character' (Martin Luther King, Jr.) I hope these tips are helpful as you seek to teach your children to behave with manners and etiquette within society and in their daily lives.
Follow these helpful tips for teaching your own child manners.