Every parent expects their kids to grow up and become a well-rounded person. But your child does not learn all the basic manners in one night.
As a guardian, the best thing you can do is to teach your child etiquette. It may seem obvious, but some behaviors can only be learned when kids have a proper role model.
1. Start slow and teach your kids the most elementary polite language
Before you embark on teaching your child etiquette, remember that they are still young and naive.
Thus, trying to shove off tons of manners at your child’s face won’t help.
Instead, you should kick off by introducing them to the most basic rule: the use of polite language.
When your kid receives help from another person, ask them to say “Thank you.”
When your kid accidentally hurts someone or does something terrible to other people, remind them to say “I’m sorry.”
When your kid needs some assistance from others, tell them to use the magic word “Please.”
When your kid wants to take part in a conversation or wants to leave the classroom, teach them to say “Excuse me.”
Above are the four most common polite phrases for kids. Of course, there are numerous different circumstances when these words come into handy.
Your job is to make sure that children are exposed to such occasions, so they have an understanding of when, where and how to use polite language.
The first few times of teaching polite language will be difficult.
Most kids cannot remember the polite language, but that does not mean you should stop.
Instead, let’s be consistent and patient. Nudge children when they forget these phrases, and soon, the reaction will be automatic.
2. Ask your kids to show respect to older people
When your kids start to familiarize themselves with verbal expression, it is time you taught them about showing respect.
First, be clear with children on whom they need to be respectful of. The list includes grandparents, parents, older siblings, or older relatives.
With these people, ask your kids to say hello to them, to remain eye contact and to give them farewell.
When your kids are a little older, you can add “people of authority” to the list. These are teachers, doctors, or police officials.
These targets are a bit trickier to deal with. You can tell children to address these people by Mr. for men or Ms. for women.
Another approach is to guide your kids through responding to each question with proper pronouns and polite phrases.
However, it is worth noting that showing respect with elders does not mean your children have to do everything they are told.
Being utterly obedient is not a good thing. Also, it makes your kids better prey for people with malicious intentions.
Research shows that many victims are kidnapped or sexually harassed by someone they know.
Thus, you should show your kids the acceptable limits while still being courteous.
3. Teach your kids a lesson on personal belongings
Most kids do not understand the concept of personal belongings.
When they first encounter someone else’s possessions like comic books, color pens, or toys, children tend to use them without permission.
To prevent this embarrassing situation from happening, tell your kids that only the owner of such properties can touch them.
You can take one step further and implement the idea of getting permission. Explain to children that if they want to use something that is not theirs, they should find the owner and ask for their approval.
There might be a chance that your kids’ request will be declined, especially if the possession is high in value, like a laptop or a makeup kit.
In that case, you should gently explain to kids why they must shy away from those items.
4. Guide your kids through some universal table manners
Table manners are different in each region and country, but some principles remain ubiquitous.
- Ask your kids to eat with their mouths closed. If they want to say something during a meal, wait until they have swallowed their food.
- Remind your kids not to place their elbows on the table for the sake of hygiene.
- If your child is having a meal somewhere besides their own home, ask them to thank the host before the meal starts.
- Explain to your kids the different uses of chopsticks, forks, knives, and spoons.
- Ask your kids never to start eating unless everyone attending the meal is already sitting down.
- If your child wants to leave the table before others have finished their meal, remind them to excuse themselves.
5. Ask them not to cut into a conversation unless it is an emergency
Interrupting a conversation, especially if it is held by elders, is an extremely rude behavior for kids.
If children want to talk with whomever in the middle of conversing with others, you should tell your kids to wait until they have stopped talking.
Still, there will be emergencies when the kids’ request has to be heard immediately.
Maybe your kids are having a health issue, or they cannot find the restroom.
In these cases, tell them they are allowed to break into the conversation, but do it politely with the phrase “Excuse me.”
6. Notice the negative behavior patterns of your kids and explain why they are not tolerable
Some parents neglect the tiny signs of kids being ill-mannered, then proceed to yell at them while they publicly display their bad behaviors.
As a parent, you will need to monitor how your kids express themselves to the world and how they choose to treat other people.
If you see children showing disrespectful attitudes, grabbing things that are not theirs or doing stuff without your permission, stop them right away.
Here comes the tricky part: do NOT get angry at your kids.
Sometimes, children misbehave to catch your attention. You being riled up means that their intentions are satisfied.
Instead, try to put on a calm and nonchalant face (even though deep down, you are feeling furious!)
Next up, you should find out why your kids behave in that particular way.
Did they initiate someone else’s actions?
Or did they do it without realizing the negative connotations?
Either way, once you have found out the agenda behind, explain to your kids why they are not allowed to repeat such demeanors.
If the circumstance is favorable, you can correct their behaviors on the spot. But if not, you can always save it for when everyone gets home.
7. Give your kids words of encouragement when they are doing it right
Nothing makes your kids happier than to receive compliments!
Every time you see your kids put on an outward show of civil manners, praise them right away with the following sentences.
“That was very considerate of you to help that poor lady cross the street. I’m really proud of you!”
“You are such a good kid. Well done!”
“You finally learn how to use the fork and knife correctly! Keep up the good work!”
When children get acknowledged for what they have done, they are more likely to repeat themselves.
For a more effective incentive, you can give your kids sweet treats like candies or popsicles.
8. Teach your kids how to accept failures
One of the things that many parents look down upon is to teach their kids to lose.
Small kids tend to be belligerent and competitive, which means they always expect themselves to win.
But truth told, no one can keep winning forever. There will come a time that your child has to face their first defeat.
If you do not prepare for them mentally, kids are more likely to put on temper tantrums and become hostile towards the opposing party.
To prevent your child from being a sore loser, you should teach them that it is inevitable to lose once in a while.
Instead of hosting negative emotions about losing, tell your kids this is a great opportunity for them to review their performance, and what they can do to win next time.
It is also vital for your kids to uphold the sportsmanship value, especially after they have just lost.
You must warn them against being rude and bitter at their rival’s victory.
If possible, you can teach your children to be more than polite towards their opponents.
Small conducts like shaking hands, saying congratulations or thanking them for a good game are all appreciative.
9. Be a good role model and set an example of yourself
Words alone cannot make your children well-mannered. You yourself have to be a living example.
Remember that kids copy their parents’ behaviors all the time. If you put on a polite and courteous manner, your kids will slowly learn how to do the same.
Teaching your child the basic etiquette requires both parties to be patient, consistent, and respectful of each other.
It is not easy, but rest assured that once you see your children grow up to be gracious and courteous, you will be filled with pride.