Teaching your child manners will serve him in so many ways as he grows into adulthood. Many parents do not realize that they can begin teaching manners to their children when they are merely toddlers. Modeling and repetition can go a long way towards instilling the benefits of manners to children. The earlier you are able to start etiquette instruction to your child, the faster they will learn. Of course, if your child is already a teenager, it is not too late. You can instruct children at any age.
How do you begin teaching your child proper etiquette and good manners? You need to set a good example and be consistent with your behavior every day. A small child can be taught to say “please” and “thank you”. If you are going to expect your child to be polite and respectful, you really need to start modeling these behaviors when you speak to your child and to other members of the family.
Because parents are role models, there really is no better teacher for your child than you. Look for opportunities to let your child witness your polite manners and behavior. These opportunities may occur at home, at your job, at your child’s school, in a restaurant, at a grocery store, and on the phone. Basically, you can model good behavior virtually everywhere you go.
Once your child understands the concept of saying “please” and “thank you”, you can become more specific in the etiquette training of your child. Help your child remember to use these words with others. If someone gives your child a compliment or a gift, prompt her to say “thank you”. Even if your child is too young to write a thank you note, you can have him sit beside you while you write one.
Be sure and tell your child what you are writing and why writing a thank you note is important. Once your child starts school, you need to let her do the writing. Don’t worry about how her handwriting looks at this point. The point is to encourage her to do this on her own.
Manners encompass so many areas of life. Once your child has matured enough to answer the telephone, you should incorporate telephone etiquette into her life. Teach her specific statements to say. Once she can read, you might want to leave a card next to the telephone with simple statements to which she can refer.
If she answers the phone for you and you are not available to talk at the moment, she might say, “I’m sorry. She can’t come to the phone right now. Can I take a message?” If she can write, have her write the person’s name and phone number down. If she can’t write yet, instruct her to tell you or another adult the message immediately before she forgets it.
Of course, teaching your child table manners is extremely important. It is important to teach your child several aspects of good table etiquette, including not talking with food in his mouth, staying seated, asking to be excused from the table, placing his napkin in his lap, not reaching across someone for food or condiments, and saying “please” and “ thank you” when asking for and receiving various dishes.
If your child is a guest in someone else’s home, manners are just as important. When your child is about to leave that person’s company, instruct your child to thank the person for his or her hospitality.
Use positive reinforcement whenever possible. If you witness your child modeling good manners, be sure and praise her for her behavior. If you notice a friend or other family members exhibiting good manners, compliment them or point out the appropriate behavior to your child.
Just as it is important to use positive reinforcement, you should also not nag your child about her lack of manners. As your child enters into adolescence, subsequent arguments over her poor etiquette could result in a power struggle or a war of wills. Your lessons and instructions to your child should be given as a matter-of-fact approach.
If you begin teaching and modeling good behavior to your child while she is still young, you should be able to instill good habits that last her for a lifetime. Good manners and etiquette will continue to benefit your son or daughter in all areas of his or her life, including relationships, school, and work.If you begin