Teaching children to use good manners doesn’t have to be difficult… Learn how to teach kids good manners the easy way!
If you want children to have good manners, use good manners with them–and in front of them. They are watching and learning from absolutely everything that you do and say. Teach children how to use good manners with these positive parenting tips for caregivers and educators. You might also enjoy this list of Parenting Books and self-regulation strategies for kids.
How to Teach Good Manners to Your Child
The easiest way to teach kids good manners is to use good manners with them and in their presence. Whether you like it or not, children watch everything adults do and then show us what they have learned.
Children are like little sponges that soak up how we relate to our world and then mirror it back to us. Children will naturally begin to use good manners if you always say please, thank you, excuse me, etc.
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The Power of Example
Children learn from what they see and hear and then show us what they have learned. With that said, it is unlikely that they will use good manners right away any more than they will use full sentences when they first learn to talk. However, if you continue to model positive behaviors, children will eventually show you what they have learned. If you don’t use good manners with children, they will not learn how to use them.
When you say please and thank you to your child, those words and their proper use will inevitably work their way into your child’s vocabulary. It’s natural law. Monkey see–monkey do; monkey hears–monkey says. Conversely, when we demonstrate anger or use swear words instead of good manners, that’s what our children will learn to imitate. Your example matters–make it a good one!
Show But Don’t Yell
Parents, caregivers, and educators are always teaching children through the power of example. Therefore, we must allow children the opportunity to learn to make their own choices and show us that they can learn how to use good manners without the need to yell.
It’s never a good idea to force children, or anyone else, to say something that they have not learned to say for themselves. Instead, guide or remind children to use good manners when needed instead of telling them that they must.
In my many years of experience as a psychologist, educator, and coach, I have never met a child that responds well to force. Children respond best to positive role models and gentle reminders as opposed to must’s, should’s, and because I said so’s.
Part of learning from what they see is understanding the underlying emotions of our everyday interactions. How can you learn to feel thankful when you are forced to say thank you before you feel it? Or understand what you are saying and why?
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Be Open to Miracles
I will never forget when my daughter started using good manners with total strangers. She was about 2 and a half years old at the time. We were in the grocery store when my daughter accidentally brushed the leg of the lady standing behind us in line. When she looked up at this woman and said, “I’m sorry.” I was floored!
Do you think I taught my daughter to say sorry when she accidentally bumps into people? Nope! Did I ask her to say sorry at that moment? Nope again, I was busy putting the groceries onto the conveyor belt.
The answer is simple. She learned how to respond when you accidentally bump into someone by watching how the people in her world relate to each other. Once she understood the concept, she showed us how people respond when they accidentally bump into someone. She even demonstrated using a different word in another situation with another stranger on a different day.
A few days later, we were in a crowded location attempting to cross the room when she almost ran into a man. I heard her say, “Excuse me,” as they passed each other. It was so loud and crowded that he didn’t even notice, but I did. I was so proud that I beamed from ear to ear!
There are No Bad Kids
Instead of telling children that they are a good girl or boy using good manners and a bad girl or boy when they are not, compliment, encourage, and guide. A child is not bad just because they make a bad choice.
Children respond best when we complement their efforts and guide their actions instead of telling them they have been good or bad. There are no bad kids, only bad choices. Help your children learn to make positive ones!
Compliment, Encourage, and Guide
Whenever children use bad manners, please, do your best to guide them to make a better choice. And, once children begin to use good manners, compliment and encourage these first efforts. Make them feel good about using good manners, and they will continue to use them–It’s magic!
As an example, after my daughter bumped into the lady behind us in line, I waited until we were safely in the privacy of our car before I shared what I saw and how proud of her I was for telling the woman that she was sorry for accidentally bumping into her.
Because I took the time to compliment and encourage her effort instead of telling her that she was a good girl, I saw the behavior repeated only a few days later when she almost ran into the gentleman crossing the room. In other words, make children feel good about using good manners, and they will want to use them repeatedly!
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Don’t Expect Perfection
Don’t get me wrong. My child is not little miss perfect manners. She can be quite the terror at times. Other times I am in disbelief of how incredibly polite she is learning to become. Be a good role model and be patient with them. Learning good manners and how to use them takes time and practice. Besides, most children are shy and have trouble speaking up for themselves, talking to strangers, and knowing the proper words.
This is why it is best to allow children to observe interactions and learn how to use good manners for a while instead of harping at them for what they have not learned to do for themselves–yet. Complement and encourage their efforts and teach them to use good manners with your example instead of telling children they have been good or bad. Continue to model, allow, and guide–the miracle will happen, and your child will start demonstrating what they have learned.
How to Teach Kids Good Manners the Easy Way
If you want your kids to have good manners–take the easy way. Use good manners with them and in front of them. Children are like little sponges that soak up how we relate to our world and mirror it back to us. They are watching and learning from absolutely everything that you do and say. Complement and encourage their efforts and teach them to use good manners with your example. Be the best example you can.
You might also enjoy this list of self-regulation strategies for kids.
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