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Intersection of Life and Faith

Manners Matter

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2002 20 Jun
Manners Matter
Do your children ever answer the phone with inarticulate grunts, neglect writing thank-you notes for birthday and Christmas gifts, or play with their food while dining out?

If so, there's hope. They can learn good manners, and teaching them doesn't have to be difficult.

Here are some ways you can teach your children good manners:

  • Explain to your children why manners matter. Tell them that God wants them to treat others the way they would like to be treated themselves. Ask them to imagine how they would feel if others didn't offer them respect and caring.

  • Pray for your children to receive the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

  • Motivate them rather than just giving them a list of rules. Figure out what makes each of your children feel good about themselves and their accomplishments, then use an approach you know will get their attention when instructing them.

  • Model good manners so your children can see what courtesy in action looks like by watching you. Show them that you choose to use good manners even when you don't feel like it. For example, if someone cuts you off on the highway, refrain from blaring your horn or making a rude gesture in retaliation.

  • Focus on the positive rather than the negative. Reinforce good behavior by praising your children for their efforts. Try to compliment more than criticizing them; too much attention to what they shouldn't do may end up actually reinforcing the very behavior you're trying to avoid.

  • Offer manners guidance that's appropriate to your children's ages. For example, a 4-year-old should know when to say please and thank you to people, but it probably won't be until he or she is older than you can expect that child to learn punctuality and respect for others' privacy. Keep building on what your children already know about good manners, so they can keep growing into more caring and respectful people.

Adapted from You Can Raise a Well-Mannered Child, copyright 1996 by June Hines Moore. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tn.,, 1-800-448-8032.

June Hines Moore designs and conducts interpersonal communication seminars for universities, corporations, and professional and Christian organizations. She has also taught social graces from a Christian perspective to more than 500 children and teens, and is the author of the "Moore on Manners" column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Are you trying to teach your kids manners? If so, how is it going, and why is doing so important to you? What encouragement would you like to offer other parents? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.