Developing Manners in Children
PC: Quick and Dirty Tips
Growing up in the South, I was taught, from a very early age, to respond to questions with, "Yes, ma'am," or "No, sir" and to say, "please," if you wanted to eat, and "thank you" if you ever wanted to eat again. Well, fast forward a couple decades,
a few pounds, 3 states, and a baby later, and I have realized that manners mean a little bit more than keeping your elbows off the table, and using proper nouns to describe every person that you meet.
When you've got a toddler on your hands, you've probably noticed that the grunts and whines that mean they want something could probably be replaced with a few polite words. Something like, "PLEASE, child, I am begging you to stop screaming for the cell phone!" comes to mind. When you are desperately trying to teach your little one some manners, you may feel like you're possibly expecting them to do something they aren't able to understand yet. How and when will they comprehend which manners are most important, what is appropriate and when, and where we should have a little more flexibility? The truth is, every one of our kids is going to be a little bit different, but when it comes to basic manners, our kids are capable of understanding more than we think.
What Can We Do to Teach Manners?
Best way to teach our kids is to be good examples for them! Our kids are master mimickers, and we need to make sure we're modeling those behaviors. We have to look for the teaching moments when it's "easy" to do it (aka not when you're at the park and your babe has just smacked another babe in the head and you're trying to prompt them to apologize). Some good times would be when you're at your own kitchen table, or while you're playing in their room. Prompting our kids to use the appropriate words in the right situations is half the battle. The same way they learn how to say, "bye bye" and wave is the same way they learn to say, "sorry" (probably without the r's because it's just way cuter that way) when he socks a kid at the park. You can also do your best to teach manners and act them out when you're playing. Role playing is super effective with our kids, so we can try to teach them how to react and behave in certain situations using their favorite stuffed animals or even reading them some books about emotions and behavior before bed!