From staying seated until the meal is finished to saying “please and thank you,” teaching children good manners is a top priority for most parents. If you’re unsure how to instill things like gratitude, patience, and politeness in your child, here are 4 tried and true ways to teach your child good manners.
Model Good Manners Yourself
Children are some of the best copycats. If they hear you being respectful to others or see how patiently you wait for something, they will probably attempt to replicate that behavior. But, unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If you are rude, inconsiderate, or ungrateful, your child can pick up on this and you may see the reflection of these bad manners in your children. This is why modeling good manners for our kids is so critical.
“Make manners a priority in life at home and out in the world. Give your children the opportunity to see their parents as respectful and courteous citizens.”
Make Good Manners a Priority at Home
Isn’t everything easier to teach at home? When it comes to good manners, home is the best place to practice being polite. (The dinner table at Grandma’s Sunday luncheon is certainly NOT the best time to teach your child they need to excuse themselves from a meal instead of darting off the minute they’re finished eating!)
Train your child to respect others and be polite at home where there’s less pressure on you and your child. The more you reinforce good manners at home, the more likely your child is to continue them when you’re in church, at the grocery store, or visiting someone else’s home.
Remind Calmly, Praise Often
Sometimes parents can get too invested in their child’s development of good manners. When we put our kids under too much pressure, it can sometimes backfire and achieve the exact opposite of what we want it to.
So try taking a laid-back approach to good manners: it’s more effective! Calmly remind your child to say thank you or to chew with their mouth closed instead of harshly scolding them or shaming them when they don’t. Additionally, use positive reinforcement as much as possible. For example, when they remember to calmly wait until you’re finished speaking to an adult before they ask you a question, affirm that behavior! Tell them you are proud of them and appreciate how respectful they were. A little encouragement goes a long way.
Give Grace in Busy Seasons
Children aren’t born courteous and considerate, they have to learn how to become these things. Some seasons afford plenty of time to invest in reminders and training them to be polite, but other seasons don’t. So cut your child some slack when they lapse in their manners repeatedly, especially if there has been a lot of busyness or stress in your home. Practicing good manners is a lot harder for your child to do when they’re not getting good sleep at night or their routine has been disrupted.