Every adult understands that kids are not born with good manners, they are taught. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children by example how to be respectful and polite. From the time our kids are toddlers through their teenage years, we have plenty of opportunities to instruct them about how to be civilized.
Having good manners goes far beyond just knowing when to say “please” and “thank you”. Proper etiquette helps them to develop lifelong social skills and have healthy, safe and respectful relationships.
Here are some excellent resources and tips to assist you in the process of teaching your children how to have good manners:
- Get a list of fun games and activities to teach manners to kids. They show that lessons in etiquette can be fun when incorporated into daily play. Included are lessons to help children learn to accept any gift graciously, using charades to teach the importance of playing nicely and sharing toys, imaginative ways to teach table manners, role-playing to teach your child how to sit properly, and using dolls to teach the importance of a proper introduction and greeting.
- Get Kids Party Etiquette guidelines which include situations like requesting gifts on a gift registry or asking for No Gifts at all, trying to get that all-important RSVP, and parents showing up with their kids and behaving rudely.
- Etiquette no longer just means elbows off the table and chewing with your mouth closed. Here are quick tips to teach your tech-obsessed kid about the do’s and don’t behavior with her ever-present cell phone.
- Good Manners Printout: Help for parents to remind kids of the good manners they should use at the table. Sometimes it takes parents saying something over and over again before it sinks into our kids’ head. With this table manner chart, you can display it prominently on the refrigerator so your child remembers the family rules of the house.
- The mom at Moore Minutes outlines some practical examples, complete with photos, of how she is teaching her little boys the rules of etiquette. She includes lessons on the proper way to set the table and how to use wall art and linen napkins of manners for reminders. A few of her lessons on manners are worth repeating:
- Never ever whine
- Always stand so others could sit
- Pretty please don’t forget to hold open the door!
- Start with please and end with thank you….always!
- Don’t forget to smile and look someone in the eye
- Please show genuine interest in others…you can learn pieces of greatness from everyone
- Shhhh…listen first, talk less
- Of course, love at all times
- ..and laugh. Yes! Do lots of laughs
Dr. Charles Fay of www.loveandlogic.com shares four techniques that will give your child the life-long gift of good manners:
Tip No. 1: Make a list
Sit down with your kids and make a list of the specific behaviors polite people display. Have fun with this activity. Your written list might look something like:
• Say “please” and “thank you”
• Eat with their mouths closed
• Burp in the privacy of their own rooms
• Say “excuse me”
• Hold doors open for people
Tip No. 2: Model these manners
Children learn much more from our actions than from our words.
Tip No. 3: Provide kids what they want only when they use manners
When parents use Love and Logic, they don’t waste their breath lecturing about good manners. Instead, they very politely refuse to provide what their kids want unless they hear a sweet “please” or “thank you” and see the other behaviors on their “manner list.” For this to work, parents must respond to requests with polite sadness instead of anger or sarcasm. For example, a parent might say in a sad tone of voice, “This is such a bummer. We can’t go to the movies today because you need more practice with manners first.” A parent who sets this limit, avoids anger or sarcasm, and holds firm by staying home will see a very upset child in the short-term and a much happier, more responsible one in the long-term.
Tip No. 4: Expect them to repay you for any embarrassment they cause
If your child continues to be rude, he or she may need to repay you for the embarrassment or inconvenience created. With genuine empathy and sadness, a parent might say, “How sad! Your rudeness at Aunt Mary’s house really drained the energy out of me. I’ve been too tired to clean the bathrooms. When you get them done, I’m sure I’ll feel a whole lot better.”
If the child refuses or forgets to do the chore, wise parents don’t lecture or threaten. Instead, they quietly allow their child to “pay” for their bad manners with one of their favorite toys.
Place-Setting Practice Printout Download by Martha Stewart
Teaching Manners to Kids Video
Some parents hesitate to take their little ones out to eat at a restaurant because they fear their children lack good table manners. Here’s a short video clip that offers good tips on restaurant etiquette for kids:
365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette
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