Fostering Good Manners in Children

Polite manners provide something essential for living in society, teaching us to be human and civil with others. Courtesy and politeness are “little sisters” of other and greater virtues.

If we consider how manners have developed over time, or how they vary from one country to another, we might conclude that they are purely conventional and can therefore be changed or even transgressed at will. However, certain basic aspects of courtesy seem to have endured unchanged. We have all heard such expressions as: “By his/her bearing, you can see she/he is from a good family,” or “What a well brought up child!”

Manners can never be completely standardised, and no one wants them to be. Manners are most charming when they have a certain freedom, and when they can be adapted to the needs of the moment. We can only be glad that the social customs in various parts of the world differ, that even in our own country what may be considered the thing in the North may not be in favour in the South or East and West. This gives an added flavour to visiting in new places.

Polite manners provide something essential for living in society, teaching us to be human and civil with others. Courtesy, affability, politeness are “little sisters” of other and greater virtues. But their particular feature resides in the fact that without them our interactions with others would become unpleasant. Moreover, a coarse and discourteous child could hardly live up to the requirements of good relationship.

How your child behaves is a reflection of the way he or she has been brought up. Parents play the main role in inculcating good manners in children followed by the teachers and others around. Nowadays most parents find it difficult to deal with their children and are not sure about how to develop good behaviour in them. Here are a few tried and tested ways in which you can make your child behave properly.

  1. Be the role Model: When you want your children to follow certain manners, be sure to practice this yourself. Children, right from early age, show an inclination towards imitating their parents. So if you are well behaved, chances are that your child will be too. Here are some basic rules to follow:
  • Always use the five magic words, please, thank you, excuse me, sorry and pardon me.
  • Do not use bad language
  • Do not talk bad about others
  • Do not give in to mood swings
  • Do not shout at your children or anyone else
  • Follow good food habits and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Follow good habits of cleanliness
  • Follow good table manners
  • Behave properly with elders so that your children can emulate your behaviour. Do not interrupt people who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
  • Be tidy and keep your house and surroundings clean
  • Exercise regularly so that your child also does so and keeps fit. Studies have shown that physically fit children are happy children and rarely throw tantrums.

 

  1. Always Be Positive: Threatening your child with dire consequences will not instil good manners in him or her. In fact this sends out a wrong message that learning manners can be terrifying. Instead make the process enjoyable with lots of laughter in between. Use affirmative language while speaking to them. Replace foolish with not clever or boring with not fun and so on.

 

  1. Be Like Them: When your child is whinny or speaks rudely, imitate with a smile on your face. Even aping their facial expression works. You will find that instead of being strict and reprimanding them at all times, being silly also works at times. Children can hear what they sound like and feel silly about their behaviour. Chances are they will stop repeating the tantrum. Be careful that you do not cross the borderline here. You are still a parent.

 

  1. Eat Meals Together: It is a good practice to eat meals together as one unit. This may be possible only for a dinner on weekends. This is the best place to practice the right etiquettes such as how to ask for something that is away from you, how to chew your food properly, how to eat slowly as well as ensure that your child eats a little of everything that is laid out on the table. Encourage the child to eat a variety of vegetables in small bites. Discourage overeating and talking with the mouth full. It is recommended that you do not give in to your child’s food tantrums by giving him or her only junk food, don’t be very stern about what he or she eats unless you feel it is not healthy. If you feel that the child is rejecting a particular food often, then withdraw the food for a period of time.

 

  1. Ask Them for Ideas: We adults tend to impose our ideas in our children too often. We feel we know best what is right and advise them accordingly. Just like we do not liked to be lectured, so do our children also get immune to the lecturing we give them after sometime. They stop listening. This is a deplorable situation and should not occur. The best alternative would be to ask for their ideas. When they have behaved improperly, ask them how their behaviour could have been different. When you see another child behaving improperly, ask your child “what is wrong in the situation” and you will be surprised how mature his or her understanding of the situation is. Sometimes it is necessary to treat your child like an equal. Get their wholehearted participation and let them find out how to behave well.

 

Good manners need to be inculcated and not imposed on children. Following good manners should come naturally and should not seem to be affectations. Behaving well and following good manners yourself foster these in the children too. Being more of a friend instead of a stern disciplinarian works better in most cases. However, giving in to your child’s tantrums is not a good idea too. Be firm without sounding repetitive in your quest to instil good manners. Make learning of good manners fun with role playing and imitation so that the child learns the folly of his or her ways. Please do not expect your child to behave like an adult. Children will be children and expecting mature behaviour will spoil the fun of growing up.

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