The age old adage ‘Strike when the iron is hot’ is very apt when it comes to the development of good manners in children. Good manners can greatly help the social success of the child. But getting children to practice good manners is very difficult because children do not always do what you tell them.
Very often parents complain that their children do not listen to them at all. Shouting at them regarding misbehavior will not rectify it. Children need constant reiteration about what is acceptable behaviour.
Patience and repetition are the keys to inculcate good manners in children. Here are a few ways in which we can help them remember their good manners:
- First, lay down clearly what is expected from the kids regarding good manners. Encourage them to question you regarding etiquette at various places - table manners, telephone, please and thank you, and so on.
- Compliment good manners like when they say please or thank you. If not every time, do it more often than when you point out bad manners
- We as parents should use appropriate language and behaviour in various circumstances that involve children so that they are reminded of the right kind of behaviour
- Do not overlook the bad manners when they are exhibited. For example, if they do not say "please" when asking for something, ask them to "say the magic word". It is always right to tell them about the appropriate manners in a firm tone (Do not become angry or plead!). Sometimes, you may have to ignore the bad behaviour at the time it occurs, but talk about it when you get the next appropriate opportunity.
- Tell them when someone they know has appreciated their good manners. The child’s heart will swell with pride.
- Involve the kids in friendly conversations about manners and ask them to differentiate between good manners and bad manners.
- Do not reprimand children in public unless there is an egregious display of bad manners.
- While you want good manners displayed all the time, it may be too much to ask of little kids. For important occasions like a school event or a social get together, do remind them to display good behaviour.
- Read them books about good manners. Stories of their favourite characters behaving well will serve them as good reminders also.
Even if children do not always follow good manners instantly and consistently, rest assured that they are learning from you. Your consistent effort to familiarize them with good manners will pay off in the long run.