Often we come across children who lack basic manners. They are either pushing everyone at the supermarket, mouthing abuses, fighting with other kids over toys etc. And when we interact with children who are well-behaved, we are touched and think high of their parents. Parents play an important role in inculcating good manners and habits among children.
As most people want to raise polite children, the lesson in courteousness starts at home. And it is never too early to teach children etiquette and manners. Studies have shown that children can imbibe good manners, a sense of empathy and concern at a very young age. And parents have the capacity to influence them to be kind, polite and gentle in a world that is fast moving away from all these qualities.
These traits will always keep your child ahead of others and make them valuable to everyone for these assets wherever they go. You can teach them certain basic manners even before they start going to school. The little ones may take time to remember them, but you will have to tell them repeatedly with patience.
May be your little angel has just started to eat at the table with others. This is the time to teach them manners that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Social skills are required in all aspects from playgrounds to parties, from classroom to workplaces. Ask them not to eat with their mouths open, or to throw their food around. Also instruct not to talk with their mouth full.
But do not be too strict as little children will take a little time to imbibe the manners. Give them time but keep repeating. When children grow a little older, they should learn not to put their elbows on the table, pass the food to others, to use cutleries and utensils, not to slurp, and thank the host for the food. They should also not reach over others’ plates to get something and wait for everyone to sit down and have food before starting.
When your child goes to a friend’s place for a birthday party or on play dates, teach him/her to behave responsibly as these would help your child make friends and make him/her feel comfortable with others. They should learn not to break anything or cause any harm to others at the friends’ place. They should learn not to fight with other children over toys and take permission of their friends before taking any of their toys to play.
Also they should leave their friends’ toys after they finish playing and not try to take their friends’ toys home. These social skills will also help them in resolving conflicts and in building healthy relationship. Also it is important to learn to thank the parents of their friends for inviting them or having them over. Children should learn to respect their friends’ parents and other elders even when you are not around.
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Party time is fun time. Often children become noisy at birthday parties as the cakes, snacks and the entire frolic make them excited. In addition, when so many friends get together, they get animated and start running all over or shouting and laughing loudly. Do allow them to have fun to some extent but be careful about the noise level so as not to disturb your neighbours.
Also take time to teach your children that even if they are excited, they should not forget a few manners. They should open their presents carefully and not rip off the paper, or toss the presents as soon as they finish seeing it. Also they must thank you and other guests for the presents.
Children often tease each other as fun. But sometimes it gets serious and lead to bullying. Ensure that your child does not call mean or dirty names to others. They should also not make fun of other children, especially those with some disability. Ganging up against a friend is also cruel and shameful. Instead of scolding them, teach them by example as to how they would feel if similar things are done to them. Children are intelligent and they understand when we explain things to them. They often do things due to peer pressure. In such a case, if possible talk to their friends as well.
This is the most basic of manners. Teach them to say ‘Please’ when asking for something, even if it is something small like permission to play with friends, or asking their friends for their toys, or may be to ask for snacks. They should say—“Please may I have it?” Or “Please give this to me”.
And they should also learn to say `Thank You’ when their receive something from others—be it some item or some acts of kindness, whether to their parents and siblings or to others. It is never too early to enforce these rules to your children.
Mind the Language
When children start going to school they often learn dirty, swear words. Most of the time they do not even know the meaning of the words but just repeat what they have heard their friends or seniors uttering. Though you may dread this moment like any other parent, or may find it funny, remember not to laugh. Tell them that it is an objectionable word and not funny and that the child should not use the word ever.
After mastering to say please and thank you, the little ones should learn when to say `Excuse Me’. It’s the polite thing to say when you have to interrupt somebody, need to get past someone, bump into someone, did not hear or understand what someone has said or make an apology.
They should say `excuse me’ to show respect to others or not to offend somebody. They should say: “Excuse me, I need to go there please”: or “Excuse me, I didn’t hear what you said”; or “Excuse me, I didn’t mean to do that”. Also teach them to say excuse me while coughing or sneezing and to put their hands or kerchiefs over their mouths while doing so.
Teach your child to say sorry after doing something wrong or inappropriate or after hurting somebody. This will show others that your child has remorse and that he/she cares for others’ feelings. This not only shows respect for others but also displays strength of character. Teach them to say: “I’m sorry for pushing you”; or “I’m sorry for being rude”; or “I’m sorry for coming home late”.
To Be Discreet
Your child should learn that there are things which should not be mentioned in public. The little ones shouldn’t talk about genitals, poo and some gory things that may amuse them, or pick nose in front of others. Also remember not to discuss adult matters or watch inappropriate films in front the kids. It is also important to even avoiding discussing or making comments about others in front of your child as he/she will pick this up and suddenly mention it publicly, putting you in a huge embarrassment.
Manners have to be taught to children as good manners are considered as the most important quality of a child. It teaches them to respect others, which is the basic foundation of any relationship. And it is primarily the parents’ responsibility to instill these qualities from an early age. And children with lack of acceptable manners are often shunned socially.
On the other hand, polite and gentle children create a positive impression, are likeable, more socially acceptable and receive refined response from others. They will be assets for your children and equip them with survival skills. Without social grace, a child finds it difficult to adjust with friends, colleagues and family members.