Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.
~ Emily Post
Teaching children good manners can be a very long-term, frustrating task. No matter how many times we remind them of proper rules of etiquette, they have a way of embarrassing us at our favorite local restaurant. Parents have been fighting these “good manners” battles for years. The great philosopher Socrates (469-399 B.C._ gave us a glimpse of the manners, issue centuries ago when he wrote, “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.”
As we develop the whole child, we have to focus our attention on their academics, their healthy, nutrition, and moral development. The moral development part deals with helping the children develop positive character traits such as having good manners. Let’s explore a few strategies that will get children headed in the right direction!
1. As you begin to “teach” good manners, keep the child’s age in mind.
2. As adults we must model good manners when around children. They are watching us!
3. Families should schedule at least one meal a day together where children can learn basic rules such as taking turns talking, not interrupting, saying please and thank you, and helping clean up after everyone is finished eating.
4. Be consistent! Don’t laugh at Billy’s burping one day and then reprimand him the next.
5. When a child is not using proper manners, ask, “What are you doing?” THis places responsibility back on the child to examine and evaluate his actions.
6. Let children know that good manners and good sportsmanship go hand in hand. They should follow rules, respect the umpire, and shake hands with their opponents after the game.
7. Teach cell phone use manners.
8. Remind them to change their behavior from one setting to the next. Holly needs to understand how she talks and interacts with her friends at the mall will be different from how she talks and interacts with her friends at school.
9. Be specific. Don’t just say, “Mind your manners!” Tell the child exactly what you mean. “Cory, sit up straight and say thank you.
10. Tell your children you expect them to use good manners no matter where they are.