The key to getting along with others is good manners, like saying please and thank you, waiting our turn to speak, using language that doesn’t offend and cleaning up after ourselves.
The best way for parents to teach good manners is by example—by being a well-mannered model for children.
Doing these things will also help your child master the fine points of good manners:
- Be specific. Show and tell your child the desired behavior—“Hold the door so it won’t slam in the next person’s face.”
- Explain why. Children are more likely to comply if they understand the reason for the desired behavior.
- Discourage “bad manners” gently—without scolding or shaming in public. (“Next time, it will be better if you . . . .”)
- Try not to “extort” manners. Forcing a child to say, “sorry,” when he isn’t sorry provokes bitterness, not consideration.
- Ask your child questions to prompt the behavior you want. “Is there something you wanted to tell grandmother?”
- Role play scenarios. “Let’s pretend you’re meeting someone new for the first time . . . .”
- Talk occasionally about the behavior of characters on TV. Discuss what’s polite and appropriate and what’s not.
- Focus on improving one aspect of manners at a time.
- Give praise when your child remembers her manners.
- Be consistent. It takes time and lots of reminders to teach children manners.
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