At Rainbow Child Care Center we believe that being polite is not just a skill you teach, but is a way of life. That’s why for the month of October we focus on politeness and good manners in all our schools. By teaching children to be polite early in life, good manners will come more naturally to them when they are older.
The first thing to know about teaching good manners is that you are helping your child build new habits. And like any habit, they won’t appear overnight. There will be setbacks along the way, but don’t get discouraged. The key is repetition and practice.
If you don’t know where to start, here is a few specific pieces of etiquette you can work on with your child, no matter how old they are.
With toddlers, it’s important to teach them what is considered good behavior and what is not. Around 18 months, children begin to become aware of other people around them and how they behave. Therefore, setting good examples for your toddler is extremely important.
Even if your child can’t speak, you can still encourage him to get into the habit of waving hello and goodbye to people.
Each time your child wants something to eat, get him to sit down and eat his food in his chair. If he tries to get up while he is still eating, you should remind him he can only get up once he is finished. If he sometimes throws his food while he is eating, explain to him that his food will be taken away the next time he throws it.
A great way to introduce these words to your child is by reading her Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book. While your toddler might not fully understand the significance of these words, you can still help her begin to build this habit now. Another fun way of teaching your child these words is through baby sign language. To sign, please, take your hand, palm facing inwards, and rub it in a circle on your chest. To sign thank you, touch your fingers to your chin and bring your fingers forward, almost as if you were blowing a kiss.
This is the optimal time to be instilling good manners into your child. If you introduce manners as learning “big kid” skills, your little one will be more than happy to learn them.
We understand that developing proper table manners takes time and a lot of reminders. But by the time your child is preschool age, he is old enough to learn how to eat with a utensil, use a napkin, and keep his mouth closed when he chews. Playing tea party or having a picnic are great ways to teach these skills and make learning fun. This table game “taboo” is also a great way for your entire family to practice their good manners at the table.
By this age, you can start to focus on slightly more complex, polite phrases such as “please may I have” and “excuse me.” Make sure you take the time to explain how these phrases are used. Anytime your child tries to grab something without asking, or push someone out of the way, stop him and explain what he did wrong. May I Have a Cookie? And Oops, Sorry! are two great resources you can use to revisit these words and concepts.
Try to take advantage of the fact that at this age, kindergarteners like to show off their good manners. However, they still need encouragement and reminders especially after a long day at school. To help your young child (and older children) remember adult pleasing behavior, try reading Carrie Finn’s Manners books with them. She has several books on manners that will help your child learn the right way to act in any setting.
By the time your child is in kindergarten, adults will expect him to make eye contact with them when they are talking. To help your youngster practice this skill, you can make it into a game that when he talks to someone, he has to identify that person’s eye color.
By now your child should have the ability to wait for their turn to talk. When she does interrupt you, remind her that you are talking and that she must wait unless it’s an emergency. If need be, role play situations with your child where she might need to wait her turn. However, regardless of how long she must wait, make sure that you acknowledge her good behavior by nodding or smiling at her.
This can be a hard habit to break, even for adults, so try to nip it in the bud early. When your child starts to mumble, you should tell her that you can’t understand what she is saying and ask her politely repeat her sentence.
While teaching your young one to be polite and have good manners may seem daunting and even frustrating at times, remember, learning good behavior starts with you, the parent. What tips or tricks have you used to teach your child adult pleasing manners? Let us know on our Facebook page!