Developing Good Manners In Kids
It is never too early to teach children good manners. Studies show that even at a very young age, kids are already capable of learning and experiencing empathy and concern for others. Teaching manners becomes easier when it is a common practice in the household.
As social beings, children learn by doing, says child development theorist John Dewey. From birth onward, children are constantly picking up emotional and behavioral cues from the people around them - parents, siblings, caregivers, etc. However, it is not enough to simply tell children what to do and say; showing them by example counts most.
Here are three sample scenarios to check the right way to react to everyday situations in order to train your kids toward good etiquette.
You, your husband, and your two-year-old son are having dinner. You son orders, "Mom, pass the salt." You:
a. Give an elaborate speech on politeness
b. Hand over the bowl of rice and curtly say, "Here." That should signal that he did something wrong.
c. Respond with, "Sure. But only if you say 'Please, pass the salt.'"
By the age of two, kids begin to form simple phrases, looking for ways to apply them. By teaching toddlers to say, "Please," "Thank you," and "You're welcome," you ultimately teach them how to show respect and gratitude. These are short but well-meaning words apt for your tot's early vocabulary.
At this stage, kids focus more on imitating the behavior of adults and older children. When kids see you respond to others with warmth and kindness, they will learn to idealize this and act in a like fashion.
2. Wiping Kisses
Your mother in law visits and meets your son for the first time. She hugs and kisses him excitedly, but he pushes her away and wipes his cheeks with his shirt. You:
a. Send him to a corner, which should compel him to think about his ill and disrespectful behavior.
b. Laugh at what happened. Kids will be kids. What can you do?
c. Apologize to your mother in law, then explain to your son how he should behave.
Meeting people for the first time may not come as easily to very young kids as it does to grown-ups. Don't expect kids to be congenial with every new person you introduce to them.
However, though children at this age may not always be able to control their emotions and reactions, they should still learn how to behave, especially toward elders or relatives. This helps prep them for future first-time encounters.
As in the case of the kiss-wiping little boy, apologizing right away to the mother-in-law tells the child that his actions were hurtful. Kids at the age of three begin to develop a rudimentary awareness that others have wants and feelings, too. Let them know that saying "I'm sorry" or "I apologize," even if it doesn't always undo the harm caused, makes a big difference to whoever was offended.
3. Taking Turns
Your two kids are playing with each other, when they accidentally break your favorite flower vase. Both run to you, yelling loud and fast, and placing blame on the other. You:
a. Become irritated with the bickering and leave.
b. Calmly tell them to stop talking at the same time. You ask one of them to speak first and ask the other to wait for his turn.
c. Punish them both immediately. They can explain later.
Waiting for one's turn is the general rule for a well-mannered person. Teach your children that speaking at the same time doesn't allow any of them to be heard. If they want to be heard, they have to learn how to listen and wait patiently for their turn to speak.