Teach Your Children Good Manners
- Thursday, August 11, 2005
Etiquette isn’t just for special occasions like parties. It’s a way of life that every parent should teach their children for all times and in all situations. Having good manners is the way to practice Jesus’ advice to do to others as you would have them do to you.
Here’s how you can teach your children good manners:
Understand that children are works in process. Realize that children are not miniature adults; they’re in the process of learning what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. Don’t be embarrassed when they make mistakes. Only be embarrassed if you fail to deal with your children’s misbehavior.
Fill your home with love. Show your children the kind of love you want them to embrace themselves – love that is unconditional, sacrificial, and focused on others. Make sure your children know that you will love and accept them whether they succeed or fail.
Center your relationship with your children on what they need from you, rather than on what you’d like them to do for you. Nurture them and encourage them. Give your children clear, consistent, and reasonable boundaries and discipline so they can feel secure. Show physical affection to your children regularly by hugging and kissing them, etc.
Be willing to forgive your children when they make mistakes, and be willing to apologize to them when you make mistakes. Pray for and with your child on a regular basis.
Instill respect in your children. Teach your kids that people and things have value and should be treated as such. Live a life of integrity yourself so you’ll be personally worthy of your children’s respect.
Teach your kids to address adults with titles and last names (Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith, Miss Chang, etc.) unless the adults have given your children permission to use their first names (Mr. Bob, Miss Jen, etc.). Tell your children to stand when introduced to an adult, respond when adults speak to them, offer their seats to adults, and refrain from interrupting adult conversations unless in true emergencies. Help your kids learn to obey you by reminding them that their correct response whenever you ask them to do something is, "OK, Mom (or Dad)." When they make a mistake (such as by running through the house), encourage them to do the task over to get it right (walking rather than running). Remind your children not to use disrespectful words or a rude tone of voice, and model that behavior for them in your own life. Monitor the kind of media to which your kids are exposed so you can be sure that they’re learning from good role models.
Show respect for your children by listening when they speak, allowing them to make age-appropriate choices, never demeaning or embarrassing them, being considerate of their needs, validating their feelings, allowing them to have personal space and things, understanding their emotions, and giving them permission to voice personal opinions and concerns. Teach your kids to respect their siblings by prohibiting hitting or biting, name calling, or using personal items (toys, clothes, etc.) without permission. Teach your children to behave respectfully in public venues. Teach them not to damage material things or litter in public places. Teach them to treat all living things – especially animals – with care.
Be proactive. Don’t just react to wrong behaviors you see your children demonstrate. Instead, purposely teach them right values and behaviors. Rehearse how you’d like your kids to act in particular situations before they’re in those situations. Help them practice the specific manners you’re trying to teach them. Remind them gently to help them learn. Use both positive and negative reinforcement whenever it can most powerfully motivate your children. Help your kids reflect on their behavior and how it affects other people by asking them questions to stimulate their thinking and discussing it with them.
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