Manners that you teach your children when they’re little will serve them for a lifetime. Good manners need to be instilled early, because bad ones are difficult to oust once they’ve taken root. Not only will courteous children grow into respectful adults, but they’ll also grow into respected ones. Here are seven ways to raise a well-mannered child.
Say “Please” and “Thank You”
“Please” and “thank you” are the foundation of manners. Teach your child to say “please” when requesting something and “thank you,” if they’re given something or someone helps them. Teach them to show appreciation for people in service positions, such as wait staff and sales clerks, by making a habit of saying “please” and “thank you” to them.
Other mannerly phrases that your child should understand and use are “excuse me,” may I” and “no thank you.”
Respect the Elderly
These days, many senior citizens aren’t treated like revered elders, but as inferior people. Let your child know that seniors are significant human beings worthy of kindness and courtesy. If your child is old enough, teach them to give up their seat on the bus or in a waiting room, or hold the door for a senior citizen. Make sure they know not to laugh at them or do anything else that would make them feel bad.
Teach your child that it is important to use titles when addressing an adult. “Ma’am,” “Sir,” “Mr.,” or “Ms.” are to be used (never a first name) unless the person says it’s okay to speak to them with more familiarity.
Don’t Point or Stare
When children see something that interests or excites them, it’s natural for them to want to point at it. However, teach your child sensitivity by letting them know it’s rude for them to point or stare at someone who is a different race, dressed unusually or disabled.
Write Thank-You Notes
In this era of texting and emailing, writing thank-you notes has become a lost art. That’s why your child’s handwritten thank-you note is an exceptionally sincere display of gratitude. Little kids can simply draw a picture or tell you what they want to say. Emphasize that it’s also important to send the note promptly.
Children can be impatient and seek instant gratification during conversations. They may want to rush to say something and keep interrupting. When they learn to take turns, they’re learning the accepted back-and-forth flow that leads to good communication and active listening.
When playing, your child needs to see that if they monopolize toys, their playmate may feel bullied or helpless. Sharing is a respectful gesture that fosters equality and will teach your child to compromise and to take disappointments in stride.
Knock on Closed Doors
Tell your child to knock on a closed door and wait until someone tells them it’s okay to enter, even if the door is unlocked. This will teach them to respect other people’s privacy.
Other courtesies you should impress upon your child include:
• Respond when someone asks how they’re doing, and ask them the same question in return.
• Don’t intentionally burp, spit, pick your nose, or pass gas in public.
• Don’t tell someone to shut up or call them a mean name.
• Don’t reach for something at dinner, but ask to have it passed to you.
• Answer the phone politely.
Manners help instill the appropriate social skills and behavior that your child can carry forward into adulthood. The sooner you begin teaching your child manners, the less opportunity that bad behaviors will have a chance to sneak in. Try the seven suggestions above to help your child develop good manners that will last a lifetime.