Teaching your kids manners is part of parenting. If you think good manners are a thing of the past, think again. Poor manners can get your children blacklisted by your relatives, potential friends, neighbors, teachers and anyone else they come in contact with. Many schools today are picking up the slack of ill-mannered children who have received little to no manners training at home.
If you want your children growing up with good manners, start teaching them etiquette from the time they are young. Children are like little sponges – they absorb what they see and hear around them from the time they are small. If manners are missing from your home environment, take a look at your children’s lifestyle.
Most forms of kids’ entertainment today such as computer games, TV shows, movies, etc. won’t teach your children good manners. On the contrary, your kids will learn that shouting, arguing and rudeness are common in the average home. Even cartoons portray impolite behavior as normal. If you, as a parent, don’t take time to instill good manners in your children, they will undoubtedly experience many unpleasant situations until they learn manners on their own.
Why Focus on Your Kids’ Manners?
Bad manners can hinder your child’s social growth and development. Few people want to be around bad mannered kids, including family, teachers and classmates. There’s a difference between being ignorant of certain forms of etiquette and simply displaying bad behavior or no manners at all. Ill-mannered children are a byproduct of western society’s “do your own thing” culture. Unless parents are willing to take up the torch in stopping this trend, schools will continue to see a barrage of negative behavior in the upcoming generation of students.
Teaching manners is part of parental responsibility. Manners reflect a parent’s belief in family values such as courtesy, consideration and respect for others. Children who are well mannered will be liked by their peers, respected by teachers and accepted into social circles within their community. Here are but a few of the many benefits of having good manners:
- Your kids will be received and respected for their social skills.
- Your kids will grow in confidence and self-esteem due to being respected by others.
- Good manners will attract positive attention from others, paving the way for your kids to benefit from better education, job opportunities and long term friendships.
- Good manners show respect and consideration for others, making others feel good in your presence.
- Your kids will be happier with themselves and their social standing.
Good manners can open many doors for your kids to enjoy happiness and success as individuals.
Social Etiquette is not Out of Style
Contrary to popular belief, good manners and etiquette are not out of style. Having good etiquette doesn’t mean your children have to abide by a bunch of stuffy rules. Etiquette can best be learned by following the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want them to treat you.”
The way you dress, the way you conduct yourself, your table manners, how you interact with others, your work ethics, how you treat colleagues and friends are all part of social etiquette. People with good social etiquette treat others with kindness, respect and consideration, simply because it’s the right thing to do. The fact that so few kids and teens’ TV shows, movies and videos promote good manners and etiquette reveals a great need for parents to reinforce these values in their children’s lives.
Good Manners: The Basics
The best time to teach manners is when kids are young. Good manners will then be instilled in their lives as they grow. As parents well know, bad habits are very difficult to overcome. Once your kids have developed bad manners, you’ll have a much more difficult time getting them to unlearn the bad and practice the good.
As a parent, you will be the most important role model your children have for learning good manners. If you are rude at home, chances are your kids will follow suit. For good manners to become a part of your child’s lifestyle, you need to display good manners yourself so your kids can copy your example.
Discuss the importance of good manners with your family and agree together on what rules of etiquette you want to follow. Encourage your older children to contribute to your list of etiquette rules as this will give them the vision to uphold them. Once you have your ruleset, look for ways to apply them at home, school and other social settings.
For younger children, you may want to start out with a short list so as not to overwhelm them. Here are some basic examples of good manners to get you started:
- Say “please” when asking for something and “thank you” when your request is acknowledged
- Don’t interrupt when others are talking. Wait till they stop and say “excuse me” before talking.
- Eat with your mouth closed and keep elbows off of the table
- Never shout inside the house (except when hurt or in danger)
- Greet people with a cheery “hello” or “good morning/afternoon” when you meet them. Say “good-by” when leaving.
- Avoid saying bad things about others.
- Respect your elders.
Once your kids have mastered these basic etiquette rules, you can introduce them to others. Be sure to give your kids positive feedback every time they show good manners so they will be encouraged to continue. Remember, the goal is for your children to make good manners a part of everyday life. The more your children practice good manners, the more natural this behavior will become.
Breaking a Bad Manner Habit
Replacing bad manners with good ones can be a challenge. If your kids have already established some bad manner habits, you may need to correct them often in order to undo the damage. When you see examples of bad manners on TV or real life, point these out and talk about alternate positive behavior that can replace the bad.
Helping children to recognize bad behavior or bad table manners is the first step towards change. You may want to make a “bad manners list” to emphasize your point. Here are some classic examples of bad manners to include on your roster:
- Intentionally spitting, passing gas or burping in public
- Sneezing or coughing in another person’s face
- Name calling
- Pushing and/or shoving someone on purpose
- Interrupting people when they are talking
- Grabbing things from other people
- Constant whining or complaining without a cause
Good manners are appreciated in all cultures. Teaching your kids good manners equips them with social skills that enable them to fit into society. Well-mannered children are easier to befriend and teach in school. Good mannered teens are more likely to be noticed by prospective employers and colleges.
5 Practical Ways to Improve Your Children’s Manners
Etiquette is an extensive topic that covers behavior, attitudes and lifestyle. As such, children can continue to improve their etiquette as they grow. As a parent, you play an important role in helping your kids stay on top of their manners and social skills. Here are 5 practical ways in which you can contribute to improvement in this area:
2. Set a good table manners standard and expect everyone to abide by it, at home, when visiting friends, at social functions or when dining out.
3. Ban electronics from the dinner table and encourage your kids to engage in conversation instead.
4. Be consistent in training your children to have good manners. Don’t get frustrated when it seems like you’re making little progress. Make having good manners a part of your kids’ lifestyle.
5. Compliment your kids every time they demonstrate good manners or make an effort to uphold your etiquette standard.
By teaching your children good manners, you give them a strong foundation upon which to build a successful social and professional life.