This is something we all long to hear. Praising one of our “babies” not only means your kid knows how to act in public, but it also confirms you’re doing something right. However, manners aren’t something that is taught in school, so it falls on your shoulders to ensure they know how to use them! Don’t worry, manners are something you can incorporate in your normal life…no expensive classes or private tutors needed.
First and foremost, keep in mind that you are your children’s greatest role model! In a true “monkey see, monkey do” fashion, our children are essentially miniature versions of ourselves, so why not set an amazing example of how to act? Try to use manners in day-to-day conversations, such as thanking the cashier at the market or sending well-wishes to the teller at the bank where you make a deposit. Open doors, offer your seat on the bus and use a calm tone when you are frustrated.
Another great way to encourage manners is by taking your kids out. A black-tie event may not be the best place to test the waters, but a kid-friendly restaurant or a local park is! Besides school, enroll them in extracurricular activities or one of our camps...these are great ways to not only encourage same-age interaction but a great place to practice using manners around their friends. Start small with opening doors and properly using “thank you” then gradually add to it!
If you have a little one who is a bit stubborn, sometimes a little incentive gives them the boost they need to adapt to a new idea! Keep a few treats (hard candy, stickers, etc) on you and reward good behavior as they perform it. For the older kids, a few extra minutes of game time will do the trick! On the same page, revoke rewards when your kids blatantly don’t use manners. Correction, as it happens, is an important part of the learning curve, so don’t be afraid to pull them aside and offer suggestions or go over the scenario and talk about what they should have done/said.
Finally, be patient. Like any other milestone (walking, talking, combing their own hair, etc), manners have to be learned. While it would be awesome if we were all born with a natural instinct to be polite, it, unfortunately, doesn’t work that way. Work together as a family, and your children will be receiving compliments in no time.