We all want our children to have good manners, but it can be a hard thing to teach them at times! I think you should start early with kids — manners can and should be taught to children as soon as they begin to talk. (Saying “please” and “thank you” are the basics.) I’ve found that parents who model good manners in front of their children often see them beginning to use appropriate manners on their own.
If your child has bad manners, try implementing some of the “Manners Matter” list below. Don’t be afraid to over-exaggerate your good manners in front of your child. Let you child know that good manners are important.
* The first step in helping your child to develop good manners is to identify or make a list of good manners. A manners list can be written for the home, friend’s homes, school, eating establishments, sporting activities and other places that you allow your child to frequent. Place the list in a place where you and the child can easily refer to them. Have your child help write or draw up the lists.
* When your child is displaying poor manners, don’t lecture — teach. For example: Show your child by wiping your own mouth with a napkin that that’s the appropriate thing to do, instead of using the side of an arm. Be positive while you are teaching!
* Review your child’s school discipline policy. Many school rules are set up so that their students display appropriate manners. For example, schools do not allow their students to walk on tables, throw food and talk when others are talking. These manner rules can help you reinforce your own manner guidelines at home.
* Teach your child appropriate signals or body language (other than your voice) to remind them to use good manners. For example, placing your finger on your ear may be used to help remind the child to listen to others while they talk. Rubbing your lip may be used to remind the child to slow down when eating food.
* Do not be afraid to remove your child from a setting if he or she continues to display bad manners. Dismiss the child from the dinner table after you have reminded the child of the need to use good manners.
* Children may commonly choose to use inappropriate language when they are with their peers. Let your child know that this is unacceptable behavior and poor manners.
* Do not encourage your child to use bad manners by laughing at them after they burp, act silly at an inappropriate time, pr make a funny face when someone is serious. This only teaches the child to use poor manners.
* Always take the time to review the good manner lists before going to the grocery store, someone’s house for dinner, sporting events and other places that your child may attend.
With some practice and coaching on your part, you’ll see your child go from having less-than-perfect manners, to being ready for all the social occasions coming up this spring and summer. Good luck!
About Scott Wardell
Scott Wardell has been a school counselor and educator for 34 years. He is the creator of SteadyParent.com: a parenting website devoted to assisting parents searching for solutions that lead to positive parenting outcomes while raising child, teens and young adults.