Teach Your Children Good Manners
- Thursday, August 11, 2005
Show what unselfish living looks like. Treat others with kindness, share your money and possessions with the less fortunate, and volunteer your time to model an unselfish life for your kids. Remember that values are caught, not merely taught. Require your kids to help with household chores, and allow them to pursue service opportunities. Teach them to treat guests well, be grateful for what they have, take turns, and open doors for others. Resist the temptation to spoil your children; say "no" sometimes and stick to it.
Teach the magic words. Teach your kids the value of words like "please," "thank you," "excuse me," "you’re welcome," and "I’m sorry." Explain when to use these words, and why it’s important to do so.
Teach wise behavior in public. When they’re in public, your children should not: Use loud voices, run indoors, talking in a place like church or the movies where others are trying to listen, cut in line, stand or sit too closely to others, use others’ personal belongings without permission, treat a store like a playground, stand in shopping carts, talk when others are speaking, comb their hair, bite their nails, or pick their noses or ears.
They should: Take turns; wait their turn; stay beside parents unless given permission to do otherwise; cover their mouths when they cough, sneeze, burp, or yawn; stay seated and still when traveling on a bus, train, or plane; place their trash in trash cans; and chew gum quietly.
Teach wise behavior with strangers. Make sure your children greet new people politely whenever you introduce them to them. But when dealing with strangers, teach them not to: speak to a strange adult when alone or when no other adult is present; answer a stranger’s questions; go near a stranger’s car; accept anything from a stranger; answer the door by themselves; leave a house, yard, or playground without permission; or give out personal information when chatting on the Internet.
Teach basic hygiene. Teach your kids to take a daily bath or shower, wash their hands before eating, brush their teeth each morning and evening, etc.
Teach introductions. Let your children know that a boy is always introduced to a girl (therefore, they should say the girl’s name first), a younger person is always introduced to an older person (therefore, they should say the older person’s name first), and a person under authority is introduced to a person with authority (therefore, they should say the person with authority’s name first).
When making introductions, have your kids speak slowly and clearly; look at each person while saying his or her name; use phrases such as "This is," "I would like you to meet," or "May I present?"; use first and last names, and say something about each person (such as, "Mom, this is Kevin Smith. He’s on my soccer team.")
Teach the value of getting to know others. Teach your kids to communicate genuine interest in other people by listening carefully to them and asking them questions about their lives.
Teach good table manners. Make it a high priority to eat meals together as a family as often as possible. Teach your children how to properly set a table (for both informal and formal meals). Teach them to chew with their mouths closed, place their napkins on their laps, and keep their elbows off the table. Allow your kids to order their own meals when dining out. Treat each of your children to a special dinner once he or she has mastered a specific table manner.
Teach good telephone and Internet manners. Teach your kids to speak slowly and clearly on the phone. When answering calls, have them say, "Hello. This is the (your last name) residence." If callers don’t identify themselves, have your children say, "May I ask who is calling, please?" If the call is for someone else, have your kids say, "One moment, please," then put the phone down and go to get the person the call is for (rather than yelling across the house for the person). Teach your kids to take detailed phone messages and to return messages promptly.
When making calls, have your children dial carefully, identify themselves and ask for the people with whom they want to speak, use their full names when calling people other than close friends or family members, leave detailed messages for others, etc. Help your kids understand not to make calls too early (before 8 a.m.), too late (after 9 p.m.), or during the dinner hour without permission.
Make sure your kids each know their own phone number and how to dial 911 in an emergency. Teach your children to turn their cell phones off or set them in silent mode when they are someplace like church or a library where others are trying to concentrate. Teach them to keep their e-mails short and to the point, use discretion since e-mails can be forwarded to others, avoid all capital letters (viewed as shouting in an e-mail), and avoid flaming (foul language, dirty jokes, etc.). Monitor your children’s participation in chat rooms. Place your kids’ computer(s) in a public area of your home – never in their rooms.
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