Unfortunately, no one is born polite. We have all had to learn the best way to behave at some point. It doesn’t happen at the same rate for every child. As a parent it’s our duty to instill proper manners so our children are accepted by the rest of society. Even though your toddler may be grunting to communicate and making a mess of his dinner, he’s constantly absorbing new information and learning from us.
To teach proper manners you have to be patient and consistent. Respond often. The sooner you start working on your child’s manners, the sooner he’ll get the hang of it. Once you’ve conquered the simple rules, you’ll be able to move on to the more specific matters of etiquette that require you to build on previous lessons.
Use these six tips to help you instill proper manners in your child.
1. Be a good role model.
Before you can teach your child how to be well mannered you have to show them what good manners looks like. This may sound simple, but you’ll notice how often you don’t follow proper etiquette of politeness. If you create an environment where everyone behaves properly, your child will naturally attempt to emulate you.
Say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” as often as you can, even when you normally wouldn’t. Your child can learn nuance and when these things don’t need to be said later. At first, you have to create the habit of using them more than necessary. Acknowledge your child positively when they use them.
2. Set incremental goals.
Insisting your child remain seated properly in a chair for ten minutes is a tall order. You have to work your way up to the big leagues. Start with smaller goals and praise your child for achieving them, but not too much. You don’t want him to think he has exceeded the goals. Show him you appreciate proper, everyday behavior. Slowly add more sitting still time. Set similar ascending goals with his other lessons.
3. Prepare them for situations.
It can be difficult for a child to go through the motions of proper behavior, even when they know what they should be doing. Some new situations can be overwhelming and make it tough for their brains to make a decision. If you’ve ever seen a usually cheerful child turn into a little ball of shyness when they meet a new person, you know exactly what I mean.
Prepare them for a new situation beforehand. If they’re going to meet someone new, let them know so in the car on the way. Tell them who the person is and why they’ll be meeting. Offer advice so they don’t have to wrack their brains for the proper etiquette. “Be sure to say hello when you meet Mr. Anderson,” or “Play nice with Benjamin when you see him.”
4. Lay down clear and simple rules.
When your child is older you’ll be able to set rules with conditions and variables that he’ll understand and act on, but a little one needs clear, simple rules that don’t involve nuance. Hitting is never acceptable. When it happens, you need to address it immediately (so they understand which behavior is the target) and respond in whichever way you feel is appropriate.
5. Praise the behavior.
When your child does something especially well-mannered, it’s great to mention it aloud. Say something like, “It was kind of you to share your toy.” Don’t compliment your child without including the behavior. They have to understand that you expect that type of behavior in the future.
6. You don’t have to be harsh.
Positive reinforcement is considerably more effective than negative reinforcement. It’s not necessary to be cruel, authoritative, or yell in order to get your message across. Don’t respond to bad behavior by scolding. If your child demands something impolitely, remind him that isn’t how we ask for things, and let him try again. When he requests it properly, respond in a polite manner, and meet his request (if it’s reasonable, don’t be a pushover). By refusing to meet his impoliteness and acquiescing to his politeness, he’s learned.
Written by Holly MacLean from Wee Urban
As a new mom, Holly was driven to start Wee Urban™ to offer the modern family a unique and fresh collection of eco-friendly baby gear and accessories that goes beyond the conventional and explores the exceptional! Tired of traditional pinks and blues and cute motifs, we offer sophisticated designs, “conscious” organic alternatives, practical functionality and superior quality. Using our custom certified organic cotton blends, low-impact dyes, and other trendsetting fabrics, we hope to inspire families to be make better choices and of course- do it all in urban style!
Beyond our organic cotton and azo-free dyes, Wee Urban uses 100% post-consumer packaging and tags for our Wee Dreams™ Sleep Bags. Our distinctive screen-printing is done with 100% eco-inks and are all phthalate free.
We also recycle our remnants and donate as much as possible to local elementary schools to help with arts and crafts programs.
For more information, visit wwww.weeurban.com
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