As a parent, there are many different things to focus on, from making sure the kids eat healthy, to ensuring they get enough exercise, brush their teeth, and treat others respectfully.
You can call it my “Southern roots”, but in my book, treating other’s respectfully includes having good manners at home. Once they have mastered using good manners at home, then the family can work on expanding those manners out into the world.
I have found that different parts of the country place different levels of importance on using good manners.
However, my parents taught me that it was important to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’ and to address adults by ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Ms.’ and their last name
Living in Colorado, the culture here is much more relaxed with regard to how kids address adults.
While I absolutely adore many things about the relaxed Colorado culture, I still believe that my kids need to have good manners and address adults with respect.
And it pays off! We get a lot of comments from adults who appreciate that my kids are polite and respectful to them. We are also often told that they use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ well.
Teaching your children good manners works best when you start teaching them as toddlers. Follow these tips for teaching your kids good manners at home (and then spread them out into the world around you!)
Start Teaching them at a Young Age
With younger kids, keep instructing them for every action. If your toddler asks for a toy, remind him to say “Please” before you will give it to him. And then remind him to say ‘thank you’ once he receives it.
If you have two children who are playing, and one hurts the other, teach them the importance of apologizing and saying ‘Sorry’.
We always took it a step further by having them say ‘I’m sorry for ______.’ Fill in the blank with the offending or hurtful behavior.
There were two reasons:
- We believe that stating the offensive or hurtful behavior in the apology helps give more meaning to the apology
- Stating the offensive or hurtful behavior in the apology helps the child apologizing take ownership of their behavior and have more awareness of how their actions impact other people
This will take a lot of repetition. Eventually, you will see that all your hard work has finally sunk in and your kids will start using their manners without reminders.
Of course, there will still be times when you need to give them a nudge!
Make Sure Everyone Teaches the Same Thing
Just like with discipline, teaching good manners at home happens most effectively when there is consistency in your child’s life.
Decide ahead of time what manners you want to teach. Then make sure that all adults in your children’s life teach the same good manners.
This includes your spouse, the babysitter, older teens in the house, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and anyone else they spend a good amount of time with.
If they go to grandma’s house every Saturday, tell her that you are teaching manners and ask that she follow the same instructions.
Consistency is your best shot at continued success!
Demonstrate Your own Good Manners at Home
Kids are little sponges, right? Have you ever heard your kids repeat something you said one time? I’m thinking that chances are good that’s happened at least once (and isn’t it always something you wish they hadn’t heard?!).
This repetition shows you that they are paying attention to everything you do. By focusing on having good manners yourself, they will mimic what you do.
You are their role model!
Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’; open doors for other people; stand aside when someone is in a hurry and trying to get past you. Let someone with fewer groceries get in line in front of you, and slow down to let that car in that needs to merge into your lane.
Be the example they need by demonstrating your own good manners.
Remind Them When They Make a Mistake
It definitely takes some time for good manners to become a habit, and that’s okay! Just keep reminding your kids to use them. If your pre-teen has a door held for her and doesn’t say anything, remind her to say “thank you to the person who held the door for her.
Consistency and reminders are the keys to teaching that manners are important and expected.
While kids are never too young to start learning good manners, they are also never too old to learn (or be reminded)! Sometimes teens and pre-teens will stop using good manners (even if they have been taught to do so) because they think it “isn’t cool”.
In this case, stay the course…stay consistent, and once they get through that phase, those manners will come back!
And of course, praise them when they do a good job! This helps to reinforce what you are trying to teach them!
Comment below! What is an example of good manners you teach your kids? What are good manners that you wish they would demonstrate?