More Than Please and Thank You

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by ctpadmin

How Do We Foster Manners in Children?

Have you ever been a situation when a child doesn’t exhibit manners that should be a simple matter? I find that I always seem to have that “teacher hat” on and want to fix manners.  My reason is to try to make a better world where kids are concerned about others, not just themselves.welcome-handshake

What are manners?  We often think the “please” and “thank you” covers it all.  I disagree.  It is about respect – for individuals, groups, our world, institutions, and nature.  Having manners doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything about the aforementioned, but we should be able to voice ourselves keeping in mind respect for others’ opinions, as well as respect for places we may be.

Having manners  may be dressing appropriately for a particular situation.  Although we are in a very casual society, it would be good to consider that a child or young person should dress in clean and “dress-up” clothes for a concert rather than show up in their play-clothes.

For very young children, we begin by modeling manners.  When an infant gives you a toy, saying thank you is showing respect for them.  Showing eye contact when you engage with a young child or getting on their level to speak with them is another way.

Teaching children to pick up their toys can be an opportunity for many kinds of manners.   The adult may say “thank you” or “would you please bring me the doll?”  The child will also be learning the importance of caring for the toys in his possession, which is developing respect for things.  This can be started at a very young age.

Although toddlers are extremely self-centered, the concept of sharing or waiting their turn can begin now – another important etiquette skill children should develop.  It should really be paired with patience.  When there is a toy that is popular, begin by giving one child an opportunity to use it while praising another for waiting their turn.  Make the interval for waiting brief so there will be success for each child. An effective means of praise is by acknowledging that it was hard to wait, but the child did it.

When my children were young, whenever I was talking on the phone (which probably was too much), one of them would be tugging at my skirt or the two of them would start arguing.  It was important for me to say to them, “ Please be patient, I will be with you as soon as I am finished.”  It is also important to be aware of how much time we may be spending on things like the computer, TV, mobile devices and not with our children.  This really goes along with modeling behavior – leave mobile devices away from the dinner table so you can engage in conversation, turn off the TV, show interest in the table manners of everyone present, and eat properly.  Dinner time together will be another topic, but it can be a very rewarding time to build family relationships.

Sometimes it is a struggle to decide to discipline other people’s children, but when kids are in my house, I have rules that I expect will be adhered to. I expect that kids will not jump on furniture, and if I see them doing it, I will speak to them nicely, explaining that we do not treat our property that way. Their parents probably don’t allow them to jump on their furniture either, so I am really reinforcing manners that they already know.  Sometimes we learn more effectively from someone other than those closest to us.

Writing thank you notes – however brief may begin at a very young age.  Have your child draw a picture of the gift they received and you can interpret the picture for the recipient.  One birthday, my grandson, received many presents at his birthday party. He was quite young and not at all fond of writing,ameri so his mom made a form which left a blank for the name of the gift and a place for Ben to write his name.  It was the beginning of a habit which remains today.

I encourage you to consider how you are modeling manners for your children and what we all can do to enlist their help in developing respect for one another and the world around them.  You may find the following link helpful as you consider this important subject in parenting your child.