Teaching your children how to interact with others is an essential aspect of training them for the highest quality of life. Without etiquette, children won’t know what is acceptable or what is expected of them in their daily interactions with other people. However, it can be extremely intimidating for parents to think about teaching their child everything they need to know to be functional, healthy, happy adults who can easily interact with friends, coworkers, family members and even potential supervisors.
How do I Teach my Child Proper Etiquette?
Before you can teach the basics of etiquette to your children and teenagers, it’s important to know more about etiquette and realize why it’s so important. It’s necessary to instill these important behaviors throughout their childhood.
Begin at a Young Age
While etiquette rules are something that can often be overlooked in young children because they aren’t aware of them and may be incapable of using them anyway, it’s important to start teaching them as early as possible. Entering school can be a great time to start introducing social etiquette and its role in your children’s relationships. Your child will begin making friends and will find themselves in more situations that require good manners and behavior in order to be considered a well-behaved child.
The earlier you start training, the more likely your child will find the behaviors easier when they become a teenager and later an adult. However, the lessons shouldn’t end when your child is young; they should continue into their teenage years.
Display What You Teach
The best way you can approach the importance of etiquette is to display the behaviors in your own life. Your children will hear what you are saying, but your actions will speak louder than your words. This means you need to be careful about the way you act in public situations and make sure your children see you taking the right actions as often as possible.
However, it’s important to realize you won’t be perfect in every situation. If your child witnesses an etiquette faux pas, it’s important to own up to your mistakes and help your child see why your actions weren’t the correct ones. You can use this as an important learning experience for everyone. Talk to your child or teen about the situation at hand and what you could have done better. This can be one of the best ways for your child or teen to identify the potential negative consequences of their actions.
Make Etiquette Fun
Children of all ages, including teens, aren’t interested in sitting through any boring lectures from their parents. They already spend a lot of hours in school and don’t want to feel like they are going to school all over again once they are home. For this reason, it’s important to find ways to make learning etiquette fun. Role playing or making a game out of good etiquette can be an excellent way to keep your child thinking and present the lesson in a fun way. You can also draw attention to opportunities for good manners when you’re going about your daily life, such as while running errands.
Teaching basic etiquette rules begins at an early age. For instance, many parents teach their child to say “please” and “thank you” from an early age, often as early as they can talk. However, this isn’t where your lessons or guidance should end. Once your children start going to school, the presence of good manners becomes an absolute necessity. Children should learn how to introduce themselves to others, answer a telephone and how to behave in general. Once your child has perfected these rules, they can move on to others. Your goal should be to continue building on the basics so your child will be recognized as well-behaved.
As your child gets older, there are other ways in which basic etiquette comes into play. For instance, teaching your child to hold the door for someone who is coming into or out of a building after them is important. Teenagers should also be instructed to offer their seat to someone who is older or even someone who may have a small child or baby to hold. These types of etiquette are often overlooked these days, which is part of the reason why older generations feel younger individuals are more disrespectful. If you give your child these tools, they will be seen as respectful and earn more respect for themselves.
Learning how to eat properly in public is extremely important. No one wants to spend time with someone who chews with their mouth open or is shoving food into their mouth at a rapid rate. Eating neatly without disturbing others is just part of the etiquette that relates to dining. It can also be valuable to teach your child how to set the table properly, which fork to use in a formal setting and how to ask for something they want at the table. It’s always important to be polite when asking for the salt or a food item, as well as learn not to reach over people to get what you want. The proper use of a napkin is also a valuable lesson, especially for younger children who are more likely to lick their fingers.
Beginning in grade school, children will be invited to birthday parties for their friends. This is a great place to make sure your children are up to par with proper etiquette. For instance, in addition to saying “please” and “thank you,” your child should know how to politely ask for what they need while at the party and take turns with their friends for games or other toys.
If the party is for your child, the same rules apply, but there are typically more. For instance, your child should remember to thank each guest for his or her gift and share them with the others after opening them. In addition, it is best for your child to write thank you notes and send them out, even if they already said thank you at the party. This is good practice for the later years when there will be graduations, weddings and new babies.
Though family etiquette is often overlooked because families often feel more comfortable with each other, there are right and wrong ways to treat parents and siblings. These are especially important for teens because they can become self-absorbed and feel like their family is a burden, rather than a blessing. Teenagers aren’t perfect and should be ready to apologize for their mistakes and make amends. They should also learn to be respectful and kind to their siblings. Sibling relationships are just as important as friends, if not more so.
Get Ready for the Future
Though basic and general etiquette is important to instill in younger children, teenagers need to realize they are about to enter the adult world and need to be able to interact with others in new ways. For instance, interview and resume etiquette are extremely important to learn, but these aren’t always skills that are taught at school. Talking to your child about what information is expected on a resume and how to act at an interview can be invaluable in helping them find a job or get into the college of their choice.
Resumes and interviews aren’t the only area where future etiquette will become a concern. Being able to communicate effectively in a positive way is one of the most useful tools you can give to your child. It’s important to express the importance of respect when dealing with other people. When you’re able to give other people respect, they will give it to you in return. Modeling this behavior and role playing with your teen can help them prepare for the future.
Proper social etiquette is an important element of society, but it is one that seems to be slipping through the cracks. For this reason, it’s important for parents to realize the impact of teaching their children good manners and continuing the guidance through their teenage years. The more instruction you are able to give your child and the more you display the behavior you expect, the easier it will be for your child to become a productive member of society.
Don’t allow etiquette to pass away along with the older generation. Take the time to teach your children proper etiquette, and make sure they understand the importance of being kind and respectful to everyone they meet. A respectful individual is more likely to be successful and earn respect in return.