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How to teach manners

The holidays are approaching and we all want our children to exhibit good manners, especially when the extended family is around.

For young children it is helpful to have practice and walk through what might be happening at a family gathering. A practice run prior to the get-together can help prepare them for a potentially overwhelming event. They need to learn the traditions that to you may take for granted through training, involvement, and experience.

For instance, a meal served buffet style, family style with large bowls on the table, or passing plates to be served from one end of the table to the other may be a new routine and walking through it ahead of time may keep smaller children calmer and more patient while food is being served. Also, explaining the expectations of when they can leave the table or if a toast or prayer will be said before the meal will help them feel involved and more comfortable when they know what is coming next.

In addition to training, manners are taught by modeling, sharing & encouraging.

Kids who grow up in a house where they hear the words “please, thank you, and I’m sorry” will more likely use them as adults.

Instead of constant reminding and lecturing you can share personal examples why good manners are important. For example:

  1. Today I had lunch with a friend and he was talking while he was eating – it was disgusting.
  2. Yesterday I was at the bank and the teller was so polite and helpful, I enjoyed working with him.
  3. This morning, my client called and thanked me for my customer service. He was very appreciative. It is a pleasure working with him.
  4. My sister called to apologize and it made me feel special and loved.

Most importantly, encourage and notice every time your children use good manners, and choose to ignore when they forget to use the “magic” words.

You can say:

  • Grandma had such a big smile when you hugged her and thanked her for the birthday gift!
  • Our waitress really appreciated how polite you were by saying please and thank you while you were ordering.
  • You and your brother really worked out the problem, that was brave of you to tell him you were sorry.
  • I appreciate your patience while I was finishing up my conversation with the doctor.

When children know what to expect, they are more likely to be cooperative and you can be more relaxed and enjoy time with the extended family.

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