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Teaching Children Manners

As kids grow older, they begin to realize that they can act differently. They figure out that acting a certain way will get them what they want, and sometimes that means that they expect to get their way when throwing a tantrum in the grocery store.

Kids will be kids and manners are taught. Kids aren’t going to grow up knowing to keep their elbows off the table when they eat or to say “excuse me” when someone is in their way. They are going to eat with the hands as they climb on the table until told not to do so. They are going to push people out of their way until taught not to. Sometime we forget that we were once little savages when it came to manners. We would push and scream and do anything possible because we didn’t know better.

And that is why we must be sure to teach our children manners starting at a young age. Remember to explain to them that we use manners to be considerate of others, perhaps they will be more inclined to follow these new manners if they know they are for others and not just because mommy said so.

Manners are something that will become part of their character as they grow older. These behaviors will hopefully become second nature to them, but their future is not our focus right now. Before they can adopt these habits, they must learn these habits.

At Yellow Brick Road, we encourage good behavior and hope our students will learn manners through interacting with other students and learning what is wrong and what is right. But manners start at home. Start by teaching your children simple manners like saying “please” and go from there. In this blog we will go over tips to help you teach your children how to behave in social settings and make them a model student.

Lead By Example

We all know kids copy what they see. If they see you being rude to the cashier at the store, using your fingers to pull your food apart before you eat it, or pushing past people to get to where you are going, they are going to adopt those habits. They will think it is acceptable to behave this way because they see you doing it. Try being polite as possible, especially when you know they are watching.

Manners can be taught at different ages. You aren’t going to teach a child who is just learning how to properly answer the phone. So start with small and simple behaviors for your youngsters and slowly add more as they get older.

Goodbye Terrible Twos

We all know the term terrible twos. This is the stage in a child’s life when they realize they can be independent but still want you nearby. Which makes it the perfect time to start working on manners. As your child start to make their way to this age, start with some simple behaviors that may seem like they don’t need to be taught.

The Magic Words

“Please” used to be THE magic word. But we have moved on to a group of magic words that will help your child learn their manners. “Please” may be the word that gets them what they want, but they need to know how and when to say “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “no, thank you” as well. Teach them to ask “may I” when they want to do something or leave the table.

These words are step one to good manners. Even as adults, people who fail to say “please” and “thank you” seem a bit rude compared to those who use the magic words.

How are you supposed to teach them these words though? Let’s start with “please”, which we still feel is the most important:

  • First teach your kids how to properly ask for something. When they say something like “I want a cookie,” ask them to say please first. If they still fail to say it then tell them they cannot have it until they “say the magic word”. Magic tends to get their attention.
  • Each time your child asks for something and fails to say please you can either ask them to use the magic word or to try again. Using the try again method is a good way to remind kids who have become used to using “please” to remember to use it all the time.
  • Do not give in. If your children refuse to say “please” do not give them what they want. They will learn that you can be a pushover and use that to their advantage. If they throw a tantrum in the store because you won’t get them the toy, either leave the store, or calmly tell them why they will not get it. Screaming at them will make it worse and giving in will give them the win.
  • When they do say please, reward them. Say “thank you for saying please” and give them what they want. If situation arise where they want an expensive toy and say “please” but you can’t afford it or don’t want to get it for whatever reason, acknowledge their good behavior and offer to get them something else.

Once your child has mastered “please” move on to “thank you” or even better—teach them at the same time. When a child says “please” and gets what they want, tell them to say “thank you”. Teaching these together will help them become a habit and a reaction to getting what they want.

Practice Polite Preschoolers

Once your child hits three and four years old, they should be mastering the polite phrases. This is a good time to teach them table manners, extending their polite phrases, and how to be polite during social encounters.

At this age they are learning to use utensils and how to sit at the table without fidgeting too much. Teaching them how to sit still and eat their entire dinner before they start jumping down and running off is important at this stage. Teach them to chew with their mouth closed, not to talk with food in their mouth, to use their napkins, and not to play with their food. When the finish eating, have them ask if they can be excused and then allow them to go play. Kids at any age have a hard time sitting at the dinner table quietly while the adults talk. If the behaved and ate their food, let them go play after excusing themselves.

This is also a prime age to start teaching your children to be polite to friends, adults, and their siblings. We all have learn “treat others how you want to be treated” and “if you don’t have anything nice to say than don’t say anything at all”. These are great lessons and help them realize that the things they say and the way they act can affect the way someone feels. Teach them why being polite matters and how to be nice. Practice with toys or siblings. Make your kids be nice to each other and it will translate to other social situations.

Manners are important and teaching them to your children can be a challenge. At the age of five and six, kids begin to rebel. In our next blog we will go over the best ways to teach your children to behave well, be polite, and follow rules.

Yellow Brick Road is dedicated to helping our students prepare for the next chapter of their lives, manners is one thing that they will carry with them throughout their entire lives. To learn more about our center, contact us today!