Tricks for Teaching Good Manners

| September 22, 2012 | 10 Comments

Family eating supperYou know that it’s important to instill good manners in your child. Good manners pave the way for success in social situations and are an essential skill that your child really needs to develop as early as possible. You want good manners to become a lifetime habit, after all. However, it can be difficult to know how best to teach them these important social skills, especially when they’re very young. Small children tend to be self-focused, and the social niceties don’t necessarily come naturally to them. Here are some tips to help you educate them gently and effectively.

  • Role Modeling. At first glance, this seems like something that should go without saying: if you want to teach good manners, you should remember to display them. But this can be easy to forget, especially in a moment of frustration. If good manners are your goal, though, the single most important thing you can do is to always remember your own manners. If you ask your toddler to hand you an apple, remember to say “please”, and say “thank you” once he does it. When he says “thank you”, remember to say “you’re welcome”. Remember that your children will imitate the behavior that you model for them on a regular basis.
  • Don’t reprimand, just make your expectations clear. If your child does something rude, or forgets to say “please” or “excuse me”, don’t respond with criticism or anger. Say something like, “when you want something from the pantry, the polite thing to say is please. In this family, it’s important to be polite to others.” This way, she won’t remember being criticized or disciplined; instead, what she’ll take away from the encounter is that the expectation is that she will use polite language or do the polite thing. That expectation is what you want her to remember for next time.
  • Practice makes perfect. You can’t expect a small child to remember all the rules of good manners after just a few reminders. Instead, it’s an ongoing learning process. Don’t get frustrated with having to remind him over and over again. Remember that repetition is one of the ways that children learn. Seek out and prepare opportunities for teachable moments for your little ones. Go out to eat so that you can practice “restaurant manners”. Give little gifts so he can practice showing gratitude (“practice” gifts may be a good idea shortly before a holiday gift exchange with the relatives, it can up your chances of a child who says a polite “thank you” instead of “yuck, a sweater. I wanted a toy.”)
  • Try not to patronize. It’s not polite, after all! Trite sayings like, “what’s the magic word?” seem cute when your child is three years old, but simply disrespectful and humiliating when you’re dealing with an older child. Simple reminders or, if it comes down to it when your child is older, ignoring rude requests, can go a long way in teaching your child what’s appropriate.

While it’s true that the job of instilling manners in children can be time-consuming and even frustrating at times, it is a worthwhile endeavor. Eventually, you’ll realize that your demanding toddler has turned into a polite, well-mannered child.

Comments (10)

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  1. Jennifer Mae Hiles says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts. It’s easy to tell that you put a lot of time and thought into each one. I really agree with the Don’t reprimand suggestion. Hard to teach good manners if you don’t have them yourself.

  2. gina valley says:

    I know so many adults that could use this! Lol!

  3. bill elliott says:

    Excellent tips to have have you r little one live by

  4. Tammy Lyne says:

    all excellent tips thanks for the wonderful article!

  5. Dandi D says:

    These are great tips. Starting them young is also key!

  6. Renski says:

    Great tips. We use many of them already but it’s good to review.

  7. Cynthia says:

    nice tips – manners are always hard to teach and teach correctly.

  8. Debbie Petch says:

    My mom was very big on manners and if other parents kids were rude she dropped them as friends!

  9. Linda Walters says:

    I like all the ideas you had for teaching good manners. Consistency is the key when teaching children anything. My son is still very respectful to me and his dad and he is now 20. Being rude or displaying bad manners was not exceptable in our house from any of us. I believe if you want children to use good manners you have to show them good manners/

  10. kim lazor says:

    Thank you, nice article. Very useful. 🙂

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