Methods for Mastering Manners
When I was a young teacher, I was greeting students one morning when the brother of one of my students came up to me. He shook my hand firmly and introduced himself while looking me in the eye. I could have fallen over I was so shocked because he was only eight years old! We all know many adults who do not know how to introduce themselves this eloquently. From that moment, I vowed that, when I had my own children, I would make sure they were this well-behaved. Well, it turns out that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It turns out you have to teach kids how to do this! So, how do we go about doing this?
Set a good example. You can’t expect your kids to say please and thank you when you don’t. Model this behavior in your everyday life. When speaking to your children say please and thank you and expect the same of them in return. It sounds like a small thing, but think of how powerful these words are. I guarantee that an occasion will arise when you will need to ask your child, “What would you think if Mommy spoke to the grocery store clerk that way?” You want to start now by demonstrating daily how to use manners and to speak politely to others.
Expect respect and give it in return. Treating your children with respect and expecting the same in return is a great way for your kids to learn how to behave toward others.
Explain and teach. Kids are not born knowing that it is impolite to interrupt or to ask why that man in the grocery line is so fat or to question what that spot is on the lady’s nose. Kids are brutally honest– that’s what makes them so endearing. However, occasionally you are put into an uncomfortable position by their honesty. Therefore, either before these situations arise or at the time of (hopefully the person they are speaking about is hard of hearing), explain to them why what they said is rude and how to avoid a future situation like this.
Role play. You can do this by having a “good manners tea party”. Make it really special – bake something sweet, dress up and practice good manners. You can also role play the wrong things to do to make it ridiculous and funny. Getting silly will help you emphasize to your child how they might look when they don’t behave well.
Praise good behavior. I often find myself pointing out the bad manners. I have to remember to tell my kids when they are doing the right thing, rather than repeating the incessant reminders about elbows on the table, chewing with their mouths closed and thanking the person who held the door for them.
While the days of etiquette and decorum classes are pretty much gone, it is still important to teach your children how to behave in society. When you find yourself saying, “No, your sleeve is NOT a napkin”, patience and lots of practice will get your kids on the way to proper behavior.
Meet The Bella Behind the Blog: Kristen Farley is a mother of three and a domestic goddess. She is a former teacher who enjoys spending lots of time with her kids, healthy eating, volunteering at school, and mommy blogging for the masses.