Some parents say that the best way to ensure well-adjusted kids is with strict oversight, while others adopt the philosophy of “spare the rod and spoil the child”. But the truth is that there is no one formula for raising well-mannered children; it depends not only on your methods but also on your kids. As any parent knows, kids develop their own personalities early on, and each one may require different strategies when it comes to encouraging certain behaviors. However, there are steps you can take with all children to steer them in the right direction. Here are a few tips that might prove fruitful in producing polite kids.
- Start with please and thank you. Good manners start long before your children enter school or begin to interact socially with other kids. Teaching your offspring how to behave properly can begin when they’re toddlers. Speaking politely is only one part of exhibiting good manners, but asking for something they want with the word “please” and a pleasant tone, and then offering a genuine “thank you” when they get it is something that even small children can do. And it’s an excellent introduction to the concept of acceptable social behavior.
- Stress the importance of respect. Shouting, name-calling, hitting, intimidation, a refusal to share, and other types of disrespectful interaction should be dealt with immediately. It’s important to let kids know that these types of behaviors are inappropriate and hurtful to others. Ask them how they might feel if someone called them names or yanked away their favorite toy so you can help them to see their actions from the point of view of those they are mistreating. Very young children may not have the capacity to understand this lesson right away, but it will sink in over time as they become more aware of themselves in relation to other people.
- Offer constructive criticism. Children are not always to blame when they display bad behavior. In most cases it is not willful; they have simply picked it up from those around them and they are trying it out as part of the natural learning process. Do you know why kids repeat bad words? First because they heard someone else say them, and then because they get a reaction. When you want to stop children from acting in a way that is rude, harsh reprimands or an explosive negative reaction may not help you to achieve your goal. You should gently explain that their behavior is impolite and then give them an example of a positive action they can try next time.
- Be a positive role model. If you think that shouting at your kids is the right way to stop them from shouting, or that they won’t pick up your bad habits after seeing you dress down an incompetent waiter or store clerk, think again. You are the first and most important behavioral model for your kids so if you want them to learn manners you need to give them a good example to follow.
- Teach compassion and tolerance. Good manners are no good if they are all show. Underlying substance of character will ensure that your kids don’t start misbehaving the moment they’re out of your sight. Whether you take them to church and have them say prayers, enroll them in charitable causes and activities, or introduce them to different peoples and cultures in order to ensure that they are well-rounded, a strong foundation in the tenets of acceptance and understanding will serve as the best basis for polite children.