Teaching a child good manners is one of a parent’s most important tasks. As children learn and grow, manners play a vital role in their social development. If parents don’t teach them, they won’t learn them and, consequently, if they don’t learn them at a young age, it’s going to be much harder to teach them as they get older. Teaching your child to be polite in manner and speech and be respectful of others are just a few of the manners that children must learn. Here are some helpful suggestions for teaching your child to be polite and respectful in speech and manner.
• Lead by example. The best way for any child to learn a positive behavior is to watch a parent or guardian displaying said behavior. Most children have a tendency to be selfish and might let angry words control their behavior. However, if they see you in control of yourself and using kind words when speaking with others, they will learn to do the same. They will also learn to show respect for others by treating them kindly by using nice words. Leading and learning by example is probably the biggest and strongest way to teach your child positive behaviors. They learn behavior and manners by watching adults, specifically mom and dad.
• Teach them the golden rule. Share the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” with them. Simply put, don’t do or say something to someone else that you wouldn’t want to hear yourself or have done to you. For many young children the thought of hurting someone else’s feelings doesn’t even cross their mind. Most children don’t understand hurt and being mean. Teaching them about other people’s feelings and how it might affect them on the inside can have a big effect on children. Ask them how they felt when someone said something mean to them, or called them a name? Did it feel good or bad? Have them try and associate their feelings with others as much as possible so they can begin to understand how much hurtful words can make someone else feel bad just like they have felt bad before.
• Be positive. Being positive means praising your child when you hear them using nice words and speaking politely to someone. Children love to hear when they’re doing good things so remember to tell them when you love their behavior. Also, remember to speak positively when what they’re saying is not OK. For example, if you hear your child using unkind words when speaking with their friend, simply remind them that you love it when they use kind words when speaking to each other. A gentle reminder works much better than a swift, harsh “stop using mean words” or “we don’t say that.” Children just need a reminder every now and then on how to behave.
• Rewards and Incentives. It should come as no surprise that children, young and old alike, love being rewarded with something more tangible than your saying “great job” while patting them on the head or back. Changing a bad habit into a good one requires positive reinforcement daily; tracking your child’s progress with a chart or calendar is also helpful as children are visual. Try using a rewards or incentives system to encourage them to speak kindly and be well-mannered. Every time you hear them saying something nice, let them place a sticker on the chart. Every time you see them being respectful by saying nice things or showing respect for someone, let them put a sticker on the chart. Once the chart, row or whatever you decide on is full then they get their reward. Choose a reward or incentive that you know your child will love and strive to get again and again.
Well-mannered children may seem like an oxymoron, but they are not. Raised by parents who set a good example, given rewards and praise for good behavior, children, specifically yours, will become well mannered, well spoken young people. With these suggestions you will be well on your way to raising a child that respects others and speaks kindly about and to others as well.