Teaching our little ones to control their bodies is one of the hardest things to get down as a parent, and it's definitely not a one-and-done teaching moment either--if only our jobs were that easy.
Helping our kids understand that the things they do with their bodies (and the things they say about others' bodies) are not appropriate for every setting can be challenging. So here are a few tips we've put together that we think are important to start teaching your kids now and easy enough that young kids should be able to get the hang of it.
While sometimes hilarious, they are rarely appropriate outside of the privacy of your home (or bathroom). Once our babes are potty trained and have learned to listen to their bodies, they should be able to control certain *ahem* things. If one slips, always follow up with an, "Excuse me!"
In the most general sense, our little ones should know how to try food without being forced. This is especially important when you are eating somewhere other than your own home or a McDonald's. Gammy doesn't really appreciate you saying, "GROSS!" when she dishes you up her Sunday Casserole. Trying your food at the very least, but hopefully finishing it, is just part of having good manners.
If any of us have been on the unfortunate end of a child's no-filter insult, this one will come in handy. Our kids should learn that it's rude to make negative comments on someone's appearance, weight, style, clothes, etc.
Going along with that, our kids should be taught that it's not appropriate to say everything out loud. The truth is not everyone wants to hear their opinion. For example, the woman in line at the ATM with tattoos on her legs and arms does not want to respond to, "Why do you draw all over yourself?" *groan*
Looking someone in the face when they are speaking with you is Manners 101. Looking them in the eye, and letting them know they have your full attention is a great skill to be learned at any age. So let's start young, shall we?
When our kids start school, they're introduced to all kinds of fun and creative words that they didn't learn at home. Let's make sure and have a talk with our kids about which words are inappropriate and shouldn't be used at all, and which are only appropriate in certain places.
Depending on where we are, our level of volume should change. For toddlers, this is pretty much an ear-shattering wail at all times. But once our kids get a little older, they should learn when they're outside, they can be louder than when they're inside. Or when they're at church, they should be more reverent than when they're at home.
There are also things that we only do outside that aren't okay to do inside. Cartwheels are fun to practice when you're at recess, but not so much when you're inside during art class.
Hands to Self
If I had a nickel for every time I said this as a reprimand in a preschool, I would be a very rich mama. Our kids should learn that keeping our hands to ourselves is a way to acknowledge respect for other's personal space and the right to choose how they interact with us.
Does this one really need an explanation? Lying gets you into more trouble. It's important to be truthful with yourself and others. That's how you build lasting, strong relationships. The less honest the child, the less likely they will be to make good friends.
Working on manners with our little ones is tough, and it can be an on-going learning experience when you run into new situations and your child is exposed to new things. Do your best to make sure your child understands the basics of understanding and listening to their bodies and their surroundings, and take advantage of the teaching moments when they come up. And, as always, remember that you are their best example!