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A Positive Approach to Teaching Your Children Good Manners

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A Positive Approach to Teaching Your Children Good Manners

Good manners are hard to teach. Children don't automatically learn them. And too often, parents attempt to teach good manners by punishing their children when they don't comply with directions or expectations. Some parents even go as far as to ignore their children.

This approach, however, only serves to harm the relationship the child has with his parents. Besides, negative reinforcement doesn't work well with most children. It tends to make them want to test the boundaries their parents and teachers give to see what they can get away with before getting punished again.

If, however, parents take a positive approach to teaching good manners to their children, they should find that this process is much easier and far more effective.

What can parents do to ensure that they teach good manners to their children? Here are a few steps to take:

1. Be a good example. Children are like sponges when it comes to what they see. They pick up habits based on the actions of their parents and close associates. The best way to get them to practice good manners is by showing them, not just telling them.

  • Ask yourself: How do I treat my spouse or family members? How do I greet someone when they come to my home? How do I ask for something?
  • These questions can help you identify the lessons you're indirectly teaching your children. And if you discover that your "lessons" aren't praiseworthy, make any necessary changes, so you set a good example.
  • Consider speaking politely, sending thank you notes, and expressing appreciation when people treat you with kindness. Remember, whether you're at the doctor's office or standing in line at a grocery store, your children are watching and learning from you.

2. Try role-playing specific situations. Role-playing is a great way to get children to understand what you expect from them in different scenarios.

  • For example, you can role-play an upcoming restaurant visit or a dinner party at your home. If you choose to role-play an upcoming dinner party, teach your child to welcome guests, make them feel at home, and show proper dining etiquette.
  • You can ask your child "what would you do if..." questions to discuss how they would act in a given situation. Then based on your child's response, offer feedback and help them learn the most appropriate way to behave depending on the situation.

3. Remember that your children are not adults. They’re still learning how to grow up to be good members of society. To teach them manners, it’s important to remain patient and understanding. Avoid getting frustrated with your child for acting "unmannerly."

  • When children don’t know what they’re doing, they will say and do things that are improper. Keep a sense of humor about it, and don't take it too seriously. They’re just little kids, after all, who are still learning.
  • Children are not the only ones who need to display good manners. It’s also important for parents to be well-mannered to teach their children well.

The process of teaching your children good manners is not always easy, but if you're willing to put in the time and effort, you will find that the positive impact on your child's future far outweighs any inconveniences along the way.


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