Manners Matter

AUTHOR: Becky Danielson, M.Ed. is a licensed Parent & Family Educator on staff at The Berry Patch and Whittier Wildflowers Preschool. She contributes monthly to the Family Buzz, highlighting a topic or current trend in parenting. 

Dear Whittier Wildflowers Preschool Families,        

Manners matter. Children begin learning appropriate behaviors and social skills from mom and dad at an early age. Manners are powerful, both good manners and poor manners. Society may focus on the crass and unruly, but respect and polite behavior will always be in style. Truthfully, would you rather hang out with a friend who is polite or one who is rude?

Teaching manners goes far beyond please and thank you. Manners are not lessons a parent can just check off the “To Do List” like shoe tying. It might take a long time to master the skill but once the shoes can be tied, the child is on his way. Manner lessons go on, and on. And sometimes on, and on, and…well you get my drift! Even with teenagers, it’s a continual time of coaching. Here are a few tips to teaching manners.

  • Praise success. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way in strengthening a child’s desire to do well.
  • Verbalize your expectations. “We are having dinner at Grandma’s house tonight. I expect you to sit and the table, eat with a fork, and use a quiet voice.” Children generally desire to live up to Mom and Dad’s expectations.
  • With younger children, focus on one manner at a time. Concentrate on table manners then move to phone etiquette.
  • Give directions in the positive. For example, “Please take your elbows off the table” rather than “Don’t put your elbows on the table.”
  • Be tolerant of lapses but don’t overlook them. Use slip ups as teachable moments.
  • Make it fun! When my boys were little, I would pretend to be the rude friend that came for lunch and broke every rule in the book; elbows on the table, speaking with my mouth full, napkin left on the table, reaching across others for food. The boys would laugh themselves silly. Then we’d talk about what a polite table manners look like as compared to the rude friend.
  • Model kindness and polite behavior in all interactions with others.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Most sincerely,
Becky Danielson, M.Ed.
Licensed Parent & Family Educator

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