Manners are a big deal in my home – I was raised to use them, and I am a firm believer that my children should be taught them at a very young age. We’ve also covered important topics like boundaries with our kids. I really wanted to touch on this with my post, because it’s been something I’ve found myself talking about quite often lately.
Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on how well my children behave, and for their use of manners. Well, Jax is a little like “Bam Bam” (his new nickname) from the Flintstones, but he’s 18+ months old now so I can’t say much about his manners. Toddlers just want what they want, when they want it ;).
The Importance Of Basic Manners
In a culture that is becoming increasingly entitled – it is important for our children to be appreciative and thankful, instead of demanding and ungrateful. The saying, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”, has always stuck with me. I’m raising part of the next generation of young men, and I think it’s important that we carry on the morals, values, and standards our parents ingrained in us. For our family, manners are a huuuuuge part of our character and the way we treat others.
- Yes Ma’am/Sir
- Thank You
- You’re Welcome
- Excuse Me
I know this seems kind of…obvious…but I’ve seen it plenty of times. I’ve seen children who refuse to say hello, or excuse me. Part of that can be attributed to the age group the child is in, but sometimes, it’s because they haven’t used or learned these very basic phrases in being polite.
**I do want to add that I teach my children to say Hello when a stranger at Target says hello, but should they start to ask any personal questions (AND YES THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME), they do not need to communicate further just for the sake of politeness. We keep our distance, are polite with a greeting, but do not volunteer information.
- Use kind words
- Wait your turn
- Don’t interrupt
- Clean up after yourself
- Share your toys + games
Pretty basic stuff, but I’ve found that these actions are harder to teach than the basic phrases (above). As a mom and nanny of 4, teaching manners is best done through practice. I’ve found the best results come from me getting down to their level to speak with them about their actions at the same moment it is happening vs. directing them from above eye level.
So, get on their level, make eye contact, and affirm that they need to take action in a certain way to be polite with friends by sharing a toy, waiting their turn, using kind words, etc.
- Greet or hug family members only with whom you feel SAFE and comfortable with!
While teaching our children manners, it is also incredibly important to mention boundaries, because of the risk or danger it might impose. Sometimes, a child might think they need to ALWAYS be polite, even when they are uncomfortable with an adult or situation. I don’t want to get too far into this topic, but I feel it is important to mention.
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- Hold the door
- Speak with respect
- No foul language
- Ask permission before touching or taking anything
These are simple manners to practice when your children are out with you at the mall, at school, the park, out to dinner, etc. I teach my boys to open doors for people before they enter a building (like the school), for example, and to always ask before touching or taking anything. This prevents a little something called ‘shoplifting’, as well ;).
Alright, those are our family’s basic manners!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on teaching manners to your children in the comments below – how important are they in your household??