Teaching Kids Manners

by: Dan Florell, Ph.D.

The family was sitting down to dinner when all of a sudden a loud burp comes out of a little boy. He looks around briefly before he starts giggling.

Without skipping a beat, his mother asks, “What are you supposed to say after you burp?”

The little boy put his head down and says, “Excuse me.”

The mother nods her head and the family goes on with eating their meal.

This situation is just one of many instances where parents teach their children appropriate manners. Although children may think parents are just being picky, manners are the glue that holds society together. Learning good manners at an early age can ensure that children will get along with others and fit into society.

Good manners provide children with ways to treat others with respect through the use of appropriate words and behaviors. Parents can begin teaching their children good manners at a young age. As children get older, these manners can be expanded upon.

There are several ways to teach children good manners. One way is for parents to model using appropriate manners themselves. Children tend to model the behaviors that they see on a day to day basis. When children see their parents offering to help other people or holding the door open for someone, they are more likely to do the same.  On the other hand, parents who act rudely to others are likely to have children who act in a similar manner.

There are certain occasions that require children to use their good manners more than others. If this is the case, parents can prepare their children by setting expectations for what is anticipated of them. For example, a parent could remind his child before going to a birthday party to thank the host for inviting her. If the child forgets, parents can provide gentle reminders in a way that won’t embarrass the child.

Another way to teach good manners is to role play various situations. These role plays can be based on a recent experience or new situations that are likely to be encountered in the future. An example is for a parent to have her hands full and need help opening the door. A child can respond by helping to open the door. Role plays allow children to have multiple opportunities to practice their manners and become more attuned to what happens in situations that are handled with and without manners.

A key to teaching good manners to children is consistency and praise. Children find it easier to use polite words if those words are used consistently and the same can be said for respectful behaviors towards others. Children are less likely to forget to be polite and respectful if that is what is expected of them at all times. When children use their good manners, parents need to recognize the behaviors and praise them. Parents should make sure the praise is specific so that the children know what they are being praised for.

Parents can start their children on the road to good manners at an early age. They can model good manners and set the expectation that their children should behave in a similar manner. Parents can also prepare their children for situations that will require being polite and respectful and even engage in role plays to prepare the children further. Finally, parents need to encourage their children to be polite and respectful in all situations and to praise them when they do display good manners.

This article was published in the Richmond Register daily Sunday on April 12, 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *