Do you want your kids to be polite and well mannered? It all starts at home.
Don’t look to the world to find good manners. I have seen a dramatic decline in manners and kindness in the general population. It is so shocking how inappropriate people behave in public. Think about the last time you were in traffic or somewhere super busy. Don’t let your family become like the world! Teach them how to behave properly. Think about what manners are most important to you and practice them with your kids. Using good manners will make such a difference in your home and make it a much more pleasant environment and will improve relationships.
We started teaching my oldest manners when she was first learning to talk. We practiced saying kind words a lot. One of my favorite memories was when we went to visit Grandpa and he sneezed and she said, “B’wess you Grandpa!” It was seriously the cutest thing! It takes a lot of reinforcement and repetition but if you put priorities on it, they will get used to doing it.
Try to model good manners at home. The kids will remember the way you treat them and the kind words you say. We have a weekly family meeting. That’s a great time to take a few minutes to discuss social skills, manners, etiquette, how to talk on the phone, whatever you think is beneficial for your kids to learn.
The Magic Words. Do you ever wonder why they are called “magic” words? Please, Thank you, Excuse me, you go first, let me help, you’re welcome…why are they so important? I feel like these words show kindness and respect which leads to greater love in the home. That to me is magic!
Here are some manners we have tried to teach our kids. Yes we are still working on some of these. It really is a work in progress, but keep at it! They’ll get there. Your home will be better because of them.
- Use indoor voices (no screaming) in the house.
- Say I’m Sorry. Teach them how to make and accept apologies…and to forgive and forget.
- Don’t interrupt when someone is talking.
- Don’t swear. It isn’t pretty and there are much better ways of expressing yourself. I had a good laugh one day when my daughter came home from school one day and told me that someone had misspelled a swear word on the bathroom stall. Also, pay attention to what you are watching on TV. I’ll never forget when my little 4 year old said a swear word-that we don’t normally say. We realized it was from a show we had recently watched. Kids will repeat what they hear so be aware of what they are hearing.
- Any time there’s a bodily function-say “excuse me” and move on. Don’t laugh about it (even if you want to).
- Praise your child when they display good manners.
- Teach them what to say if they answer the phone. If they call grandparents (especially if they can’t hear well) teach them to say, “Hello, this is _________”.
- When talking to someone, teach them to make eye contact, smile, and/or shake hands.
- When we go visit grandparents, we always have them hug or kiss them goodbye. They have always done this so it isn’t awkward now that they are teens.
- Teach them how to receive a gift graciously.
- Teach them how to be a good sport and to lose nicely.
- Teach them how to be a good host when they have friends over. My kids learned quick that if they didn’t have their friends help with clean up, they would have to do it all. Also, what are the house rules.
- Teach them how to be a good guest.
- You can teach a manner a day with this book.
- My son watched his dad get the door for me and now he likes to hurry to open the door for me.
- We even talked to our kids about how to politely get out of a party or leave a friend’s house that wasn’t fun or safe. And we have a secret text word that they can text us if they really want to leave.
- Teach them how to have good e-manners…(like responding to texts politely).
- We don’t put up with eye rolling or sassing parents. Make sure to follow through if your kids are being a stinker. Don’t put up with it. Stop it immediately before it becomes a habit.
Table Manners. We try to eat dinner every night together. It is a great time to work on manners. Some things we seem to focus on a lot include:
- Tuck your legs under the table and scoot forward. Yes-this does indeed help prevent food being spilled all over you!!!
- No bodily functions talk at the table…or anything gross either-ie: maggots or bleeding injuries.
- Don’t talk with your mouth full. Chew with your mouth closed. This gets a little more complicated with braces.
- Teach how to use utensils properly.
- Teach them to have polite dinner conversation. Sometimes we like to use a conversation starter to get us talking.
- Use nice words like, “Please, pass the_______”.
- Teach them to comment on good food, and to be polite if it isn’t great. (We have a rule that they have to try everything and be nice about it).
- Teach them how to use a napkin. I don’t even care if they put it on their lap, but use the napkin when you need it, not your pants!
- No electronics are allowed at the table. I hate to go out to eat and see an entire family all looking down at their phones and not interacting with each other. It makes me so sad!
Manners will help your family emphasize kindness and be more considerate of how each other feels. Try practicing some manners today! Let me know how it goes and what works for you!
Things that inspired me…