Good manners will get you far. One of the most important responsibilities we have as parents is to give our kids the best chances they can get, and that includes teaching them manners- an essential tool for success. As all parents know, dealing with kids can be hard, and teaching life lessons doesn’t always work like clockwork. What sounds easy on paper, or on a blog, doesn’t always go so smoothly in real life, but what we learn when we’re young stays with us. So since a polite kid will grow into a polite adult, it’s important to put in the effort and raise our kids to be polite. Here’s what you can do:
- Set a good example: Pretty obvious, right? Teach your kids that it’s important to say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” and then show them how it’s done in real life. The same goes for polite and appropriate behavior.
- Be respectful: Treat everyone with respect, even your kids.
- Be consistent:
- Teach them to express gratitude: While it might be old-fashioned, writing thank you notes for gifts is not out of date. Birthday presents, Christmas presents, and all other gifts should be followed with a short note, phone call, or email.
- No interruptions: Teach kids to politely say “excuse me” if they want your attention when you’re on the phone, or otherwise busy.
- Table manners: Kids should know how to use utensils and napkins, not to talk with their mouths full, to clear their plates when they’re finished eating, and to ask to be excused from the table.
- Apologies: Knowing how to apologize is extremely important. Teach kids to say “I’m sorry” and to let the other person know they mean it.
- Prepare for specific situations: Talk about an occasion or situation that you have coming up, like a play date, or a visit to Grandma’s house, and discuss what behavior is expected.
- Praise good behavior: We all like recognition for a job well done, and a little bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way. Saying something like “It was so nice of you to hold the door open” will make your child feel really great.
Of course you and your kids will still have your moments. There will still be tantrums and refusals to say “thank you,” but if they know the fundamentals of good manners, those blips will happen less and less often.