You see it everywhere you go: Children with bad manners. If you're a parent, it's up to you to teach your children how to behave and show good manners toward others. Whether it's being polite or knowing how to act in public, manners is an important lesson that all children need to learn.
Here are 5 basic manners that you need to teach your children now.
How to Be Polite
You can teach children as young as two to say those precious words of polite behavior: Please, thank you, excuse me, and I'm sorry. Instill an expectation in your children starting when they are young that those words are expected of them and be consistent. Continue to reinforce this for the rest of their childhood. At least once a week each of my children will say “Mommy – I want milk/cookies/a pencil?”. I just look them in the eye and say “I'm sorry, what did you ask me?” and continue to repeat that answer until they add the word “please
Letting your children play with their food was cute when they were babies and toddlers, but once they reach a certain age (about 3 years old), it is absolutely disgusting if you are still letting them eat their pasta with their hands. I'm not saying that they need to be ready to eat dinner with the Queen of England, but they can put their napkin in their lap, chew with their mouth closed and keep their elbows off the table! Don't worry – once they get older (and especially if you have boys), you will get to teach them how farting at the table isn't funny either!
How to Act in a Restaurant
Don't you love going to restaurant to see children behaving badly? Yeah, me either. You especially don't want it to be your children who are doing so. We talked about how to teach children to act in restaurants before, but it bears repeating!
You may not know all of the fine dining etiquette and rules, but that doesn't have to stop you from teaching your kids to use inside voices, to sit on their bottoms in their chairs (and that includes them not running around the restaurant), to not throw their food, to always use their napkins, and to never talk with their mouths full. Don't forget to make sure to teach your children to treat the waitstaff with respect!
Yes – I know that someone is going to say “if my children are bothering you at a restaurant – then don't look”. Well – I typically don't go to a restaurant wearing “horse blinders”, so there isn't a way that the other patrons in the restaurant aren't going to see your child misbehaving!
How to Show Respect to Adults
Children must learn the importance of showing respect to adults. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. When I see a child “talking smack” to other adults, I think that reflect more on the parent than the child (up to a certain age).
This constitutes not talking back or arguing, no nagging, not interrupting, calling an adult “Mr.”, “Miss”, or “Mrs.” (unless instructed to do otherwise by that adult). How do your kids know that this is the expected behavior? You teach them, and you constantly remind them of what is expected and do not tolerate anything less.
How to Respect Personal Space
Personal space is one of those things that children seem to have trouble learning. It's common to see kids crowding in too close when it isn't appropriate. Teach your kids the importance of remembering that everyone has an “invisible bubble” around them and that you must stay out of someone else's bubble unless they invite you in. This also applies when another child wants to be left alone.
How to Show General Respect
Teaching your kids to show general respect to others includes teaching them not to touch things that don't belong to them, how to wait their turn, and even how not to be a sore loser.
One of the best ways to teach any polite and mannerly behavior is to model it yourself. Don't expect your children to show good manners if you don't.
When the kids hear you saying “please” and “thank you” frequently, they will automatically start to pick it up. If they see you showing respect and displaying good manners, they will follow your example. It will only take a bit of gentle urging and reminding from you to make sure they remember.
Do you have any other basic manners for children to add?