It may appear that manners have taken a downward slide in priority over recent years. The fact remains however, that instilling the principles of good manners in young children is exceedingly important. Understanding and using good manners has so many positives: it shows courtesy and empathy towards others; indicates thoughtfulness, and reflects on the child’s upbringing and education.
Fundamentally, good manners are necessary for people to get along together in this world. Here are seven ways you can encourage a child to be gracious and well mannered.
Introduce polite words from a young age
Children as young as two can learn to say “please” and “thank you”. Despite not fully understanding the implications of using these words, children can learn from a very early age that “please” must be attached to asking for things, and “thank you” always comes at the end of a transaction or interaction. As the child develops further, they will understand that these words make other people feel good about helping you.
Respect and sensitivity
In summary, good manners stem from respect for another individual, and the route to respect is essentially sensitivity. If you can teach a child the value of sensitivity, you are giving them a wonderful gift. A sensitive infant who develops awareness of others and their feelings, will grow into a respectful child. And a respectful child naturally becomes a well-mannered individual. Good manners become logical to them and not something they have to learn artificially.
Master five important phrases
Along with “please” and “thank you”, ensure that children understand that “excuse me”, “May I…” and “no, thank you” are also required in everyday life and must be mastered.
Mirror good manners
Make sure you always include a lot of “please” and “thank you” and the other important phrases as you interact with people in daily life. From the ages 2 to 4, children will mirror what the adults around them are saying. Remember also to address your child and other children with the same good mannered phrases so that they catch on to this polite behaviour.
Acknowledging children in public places
When out and about, including the child in activities and conversation helps them to feel acknowledged, and reduces any desire to “act out” for attention. Acknowledging and interacting with the child, particularly if there are few other children present, also opens opportunities to educate them about appropriate social behaviour. Make sure that education about noise levels, meeting new people, respect for property, privacy and personal space are a big part of fun activities with your children in public.
Correct on the spot
The best way to learn is by making mistakes, and so by correcting children ‘in action’ they can get a deeper appreciation of manners and how to apply them. Some examples include:
- If you are having a conversation and a child interrupts you, gently point out that this is inappropriate behaviour and how a place in the conversation might be achieved politely.
- If a child yells in public, insist that they lower their voice and let them know why this is, e.g. there are people reading or enjoying lunch nearby.
Correct a child politely
Be careful how you go about correcting children because correcting a child aggressively or in front of others can be a form of rudeness in itself. The idea is certainly not to ‘make an example ‘of the child. Consider the situation you are in, and if appropriate, move the child away to a more private area to explain your corrections.
Avoid getting in the habit of yelling out to a child if they are doing something wrong. Instead, ensure that you get close to the child, maybe even bending or squatting to their level to gain eye contact, and speak in a low and relaxed voice. Communicating this way indicates to the child that you are treating him or her with dignity, respect and that you genuinely want them to improve. Hopefully, the child will embrace this behaviour and grow up to do the same to others.
Sage Institute of Child Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
Latest posts by Vicki Tuchtan (see all)
- VET FEE-HELP – important information for current students - December 21, 2016
- Sleep deprivation: how to survive when children won’t sleep - December 20, 2016
- Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis) in Children & Babies: The Essential Guide - December 19, 2016