Children aren’t born with manners; it’s not an innate ability. Part of a parent’s job is to teach a child good manners, how to behave in a polite and considerate manner towards others. A child with good manners will find it easier to mix, easier to make friends and socialise and, for the most part, will be a much happier child.
Make it a habit to have good manners in the home. Young children learn by copying the adults around them, especially parents and care givers. This means that the home is the first place to start teaching your child manners. You’ll all need to treat each other with good manners in the home, demonstrating to your child that you have standards that he needs to comply with. Good manners should be instilled in your child so that it’s a way of life, not something that requires extra effort.
You’ll probably find that some of the very first lessons in manners will revolve around food – table manners. Make sure your family eats at the table once a day – that’s the best way to start teaching table manners to the kids. You’ll be right there with them, in control of the situation and able to teach them every step of the way. Make sure your child eats nicely and uses utensils properly. As you little one gets older, start asking him to pass salt, pepper, etc. and teach him to offer food to others before helping himself.
Please and Thank you are essential words for all children to learn. Teach your little one to always say please when asking for something and to say thank you when receiving items. This can start from a very early age before your little one is able to form the words properly – you can have substitute words that will work just as well.
Teach your little one to share and take turns – he should be ready from about the age of 18 months to 2 years. Encourage sharing when your child is playing with others – teach taking turns on a large item of equipment such as a slide or swing. Give him two similar toys and ask him to share one with his friend. If you have other children, teaching sharing and taking turns will be a little easier – it will already be a natural part of your day to day life.
Teach your child to have conversations with others – impress upon him that it’s important to listen to what somebody has to say without interrupting. Then when it’s his turn to talk, encourage him to do so with confidence. Teach him that it’s important to look at each other, maintaining eye contact when having a conversation.
Be patient while teaching your child manners – it’s a lot to learn and don’t forget your own behaviour is important here, your child will learn by copying you. Lots of positive reinforcement will go a long way towards helping you get the message across. Small children want to behave well; they want to know where the boundaries are and what they need to do to be considered good.