Recently I found myself doing some thinking about how awesome it is when you’re out in public with your child or children, and someone says something like “Oh they are so well behaved”, or “Such nice kids”.
This is the ultimate compliment for any parent. I secretly do jumping jacks inside every time I hear it, because with kids -well, sometimes it can be hit or miss. lol
My children are not perfect, far from it as a matter of fact.
When we’re at home for instance, we still have the periodic bouts of them thinking that they are the ten little monkeys jumping on the bed. But for the most part, they do have manners.
When I talk about manners though, I am not talking about the Von Trapp children type of manners where they have to line up and state their name, but just the simple type where children are well behaved and know how to respond to every type of social cue.
It’s funny how before you have kids you take it for granted that when you do have kids they will automatically be mini versions of you, and emulate everything that you do.
In your mind, they will always know when to say “Thank you”, “Please” and “You’re Welcome” without you having to give them the eye or that tiny little nudge.
This is not always the case as they show us quite early that they have their own minds, their own free will and often times are not afraid to show us how far they can push defiance.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t guide them along the way. Actually that’s part of our jobs. It says so in the manual. lol.
I started talking to my kids about manners way before they were toddlers. I explain to them why manners are important, and why it is important to show manners to other people so that in turn, other people will be kind to them and show them manners.
Over the past few years as a parent I have managed to narrow down some pretty simple ways we can teach our toddlers manners. We use these every single day with our kids.
Reiteration and Repetition
What do toddlers and babies love to do? They love to imitate things that they see us do. One rule that we follow in my house is ensuriing that in every interaction, we pay attention to our behavior and we reiterate constantly.
For instance, every time my toddler asks for juice, and I hand it to him, I say “Thank you”, and allow him to repeat it. I say it every single time.
The end result? Now my toddler will not take anything from anyone without saying thank you. It’s to the point where he tells you both “Thank you, and “You’re welcome” as one sentence. lol
Always remember to recognize your children in a positive way when they display manners that you have taught them. Use positive words in telling them how proud you are and what a great job they are doing with regards to a particular form of etiquette.
Something as simple as placing their dinner bowl in the sink should be celebrated. It encourages them and makes them want to continue this particular behavior.
Reward them whenever they use their kind words, or share their toys. There isn’t really an age which I think is too early to start, when it comes to positive recognition.
Even babies understand when they have done something which delights mommy or which does the opposite.
This is really important when you are trying to ensure that your children learn to show manners. Knowing when and how to reinforce what you have been reiterating constantly is very important.
Using the same example with the juice and my toddler for instance, I will hold the juice in my hand and will not do the hand over to him until I hear “Thank you”.
During the rare instances when he forget his manners, I ask questions to help guide him. I’ll say something to the effect of “What do you say?” or “I did not hear the magic words?”
I also make it a point of duty to correct my toddler’s sentences by repeating them the correct way myself.
When he says “Mommy I juice”, my response is always “May I have some juice please?”.
Later on when he thinks to himself that he wants to tell mommy “Mommy I juice”, I always see him thinking first and then he quickly changes up his sentence.
If I catch my toddler doing something out of the way I step in and reinforce.
Teaching children manners is not always an exact science. Children have free will and at times are not afraid to show us that they want to go against what is correct.
I sometimes have my own challenges with my toddlers forgetting show manners. Being mindful of our own behaviors, is really important as they look at that first in everything that we do.
What are your thoughts on teaching children how to show manners? Let me know in the comment box.
Check out this blog post at Raisingbiracialbabies.com about
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