It may seem like manners have become a thing of the past, but teaching your kids how to be polite and courteous should not become a forgotten art. Manners will almost always be appreciated even though they are so often neglected in today’s society and a child who shows social grace will make a good impression right away. Learning manners will not only aid your child in their social development now but will stick with them throughout their future as a teen and eventually into adulthood.
You should begin teaching your children these 10 manners when they are around the daycare or preschool age.
- Please and Thank You. This is one of the first courtesies your toddler should learn. When they need something you should tell them that the proper way to ask for it is with a “please.” When they are given something, whether it is a gift or treat, you should tell them to accept it with a “thank-you.” Practice this with your child until it becomes a habit.
- Sharing. You’ve heard the age-old saying “sharing is caring,” make sure your child hears it too. You can encourage sharing by giving him two toys that are similar and then having him offer one to his friend during their playtime.
- Apologizing. If your child does something that injures another person, either physically or emotionally, teach them that it’s necessary to apologize. Tell them that the action they did hurt the person and that they should say they’re sorry.
- Conversation. Young children often don’t realize that it’s rude to interrupt someone when they are talking. A fun way to teach them how to wait for someone to finish talking is to use a toy ball that you pass back and forth throughout a conversation. Tell them that they can talk once they have the ball in their hand and when they are done speaking, they can pass it back to you.
- Eye contact. An important part of having a polite conversation is making eye contact. Teach your child to make eye contact with a person by asking them to notice the color of a person’s eyes and to report it to you after the conversation.
- Questions. Tell them that they should always answer questions when they are asked. Even if they don’t have an answer, teach them that it’s better to say “I don’t know” then to say nothing at all.
- Handshaking. When greeting a person for the first time, instruct your child to shake his hand. You can teach them how to shake hands at home by using this little trick: show them the web of your hand (the area between your thumb and pointer finger) and tell them that when shaking a hand, they should touch their web to yours. Practice this a few times until they get the hang of it.
- Eating properly. Table manners are important, especially if you want to take your child to a restaurant without having to worry about any yelling or incidents. Teach your toddler how to use a fork and spoon and how to wipe their own mouth with a napkin. Make sure they know that its not acceptable to talk with a mouth full of food or to walk around the house while eating. By age 3, they should be able to sit at the table for at least 15 minutes. Do not let them throw food at home. If they throw their food, you should discourage them by saying, “If you don’t want your food, then I’ll take it away but we don’t throw our food on the floor.”
- Formalities. When introducing other adults to your child, introduce them as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” followed by their last name. If the person being introduced prefers to be referred to on a first-name basis, they will tell the child, “Please call me Ana,” and let your child know that it’s okay to call her that from now on.
- Getting attention. Make sure they know that interrupting is rude in almost all cases unless it’s an emergency. For example, if they need to use the restroom or if they are feeling sick, tell them that they can interrupt by saying “Excuse me.”
At Prep Academy, we believe that manners are a good indicator of a child’s gratitude as opposed to the entitlement that a child is naturally inclined to feel. Practicing gracious behavior is a great way to build character development, which we believe is necessary in order to support the growth of a well-rounded child. We make it a point to include character education as a part of our curriculum here at Prep Academy and we believe that positive discipline techniques are the key to nurturing life-long skills.