Good manners are essential for every child’s self confidence and success in life.
The family home – this is where it starts, where the ‘manners seed’ is planted and nurtured.This is where your children learn not only good manners, but also core values and ethics.This is the haven where your children learn to be considerate, tolerant and respectful.They learn to share and to respect the space of all other family members.This is the place where your children put into practice the foundation of all the social etiquette they will need to carry them through life.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. NKJV
I don’t think this verse is just for spiritual things. Those social graces that are taught in the home will be with our kids all their lives, too. Wow, heavy stuff. So is this just another task that has to be done?
How do I fit another thing in between the grocery shopping, homeschooling, meal preparation, laundry, church work, gardening, house cleaning, time with my husband, errands, personal devotions, and on and on? Whew, I’m tired already !!!!!
But wait – before you throw your hands up and say – “I can’t do this !!!!!”
Today I want to give you some simple, doable methods to make teaching manners almost effortless !!!! Your child’s rude ‘tude isn’t always intentional. Sometimes kids just don’t realize it’s impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe that the lady walking in front of them has a large behind.
So what are manners? Emily Post summed it up best – “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” “Good manners reflect something from inside-an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.”
Here is a list of manners that I feel are important to teach kids.
Vocal manners – Saying please and thank you. Learning how to greet people. Never calling names, even in fun. Trying really hard not to embarrass anyone by what you say – this means no teasing or hateful remarks. For older kids – in the company of other people – turn off your cell phone. Your family’s affairs are private and should not be spoken about to others.
Home Manners – Pick up after yourself. If a door is closed knock and wait for permission to enter. Treat furnishings with respect – no jumping on the couch or bed – the same goes for sitting on the chair with muddy shoes. Share. Ask others before you use their things. Help with household tasks. Practice table manners. Using basic hygiene.
Public manners – Learn to be a graceful loser at sporting events. Never say anything unkind about a person. Don’t ask nosy questions. Don’t pick your nose or scratch private parts. When in a group, try to keep your voice down and behavior less boisterous. Don’t interrupt when others are talking.
Of course a lot of these manners can be used in all three categories – If you shouldn’t jump on couches at home the same rule applies when you are visiting. And when eating food at a restaurant the same good table manners should be used.
So how do I accomplish getting these rules to “stick” in my children’s life?
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First of all, I loved to read to my daughter and after a while she could recite the story from the book almost word for word so how about some read to me books for kids?
This delightful picture book helps children to understand that good manners are a simple way of showing kindness and respect to people you know — and to people you don’t know. Young children can learn that manners are important because being polite makes working and playing together more enjoyable for everyone. (taken from the back cover)
A book for older kids that will have them rolling in the aisles is Dude, That’s Rude!: (Get Some Manners) (Laugh & Learn) Full-color cartoons and kid-friendly text teach the basics of polite behavior in all kinds of situations—at home, at school, in the bathroom, on the phone, at the mall, and more. Kids learn Power Words to use and words to avoid, why their family deserves their best manners, and the essentials of e-tiquette (politeness online). It seems like light reading, but it’s serious stuff: Manners are major social skills, and this book gives kids a great start. (Amazon description) Instead of feeling like you are “preaching” to them, these books will inspire a lot of laughs for your kids and hopefully question LOL !
Role Play – If I remember right (and I do) a lot of my time was spent in the car driving my daughter around to activities, play dates, the park, church, the library, etc – you fill in the blanks. But why not use this time to role play. Example – if little Jimmy at school says this – what can I say that would be kind? Or, Grandma and Grandpa are coming for a visit – how should I greet them and act when they visit? Here’s another situation – What should I do if I’m going to sneeze? Quiz your kids on the acceptable ways to eat spaghetti, pudding, soup, mashed potatoes. Ask them if it would be OK to stand on the table and eat. Believe it or not, Tom and I were at a place Sunday where we watched two little boys (maybe 5 and 3 years old) eat chocolate cake with chocolate icing with their hands and wipe those same hands on their white church shirt. Yikes – I was embarrassed for the mom !!!!!
At home you can join in a pretend lunch party with your toddler and her teddy bears and both of you can take turns saying please and thank you as you ask for and accept food. Then carry this over to mealtimes at your own table.
Use manners everyday – How are your manners mom and dad? Do you think social graces are only for special situations or when you are in the public? Kids catch what they live. Use please and thank you often at home. Are you eating supper every night in front of the TV on paper plates? Maybe its time to eat a few more meals at the dinning room table on the semi-good plates and brush up on those manners as a family. Talk to each other, share the day and model how to interact with each other in a gracious way. When your kids pick up their toys or follow through on chores make sure they hear a hearty – Thank You !!!! Do your children hear you shouting at the coach? Well don’t expect anything different from them.
Make manners fun – How hard would it be to get your kids to brush their teeth if they had a toothbrush that lighted up or sang to them while they were using it? What about installing a basketball hoop right over the clothes basket? Make a game of picking up toys. See who can whisper the lowest at the library. If you see a child that looks a little different, have a contest to see who can come up with the most good things they could say about them.
Finally, have a talk about why manners are so important – I always told my daughter that, “Manners could serve her well in the presence of kings.” Explain how we as people who are trying to do good shouldn’t be calling names or saying rude things about other people. Explore, together, how rude people make them feel or how situations like the chocolate cake deal look to other people. Be patient with your children and expect reasonable manners for their age.
This might be OK at a year – But this isn’t OK for a young adult !!!!
Manners really do matter. Teaching manners trains kids to be considerate and respectful of others and it teaches them that there are standards for appropriate behavior in different situations. This will set them up for success as they get older and they find themselves at a friend’s house, interacting with older folks, facing a child or adult that is different or – dare we say it – on a date or at job interview later in life! And maybe even before kings !!!!