by Aruna Kamath
Good manners in kids these days seem to be in major short supply. I was completely aghast the other day when I offered my neighbour’s son a bar of chocolate. He just grabbed it from my hand and instantly started peeling the wrapper and chomping it. While I stood patiently to hear the ‘magic words’, his mother stood a silent spectator to all this, with no intention whatsoever of prompting him. The incident not only left me stunned speechless but disturbed me a great deal too.
Most often than not, a child’s rude behavior isn’t always intentional. Sometimes, they just don’t realize that it’s impolite to point fingers at people, call them names or interrupt a conversation. Basic manners and etiquette need to be stressed upon time and again, till they are ingrained. And the onus – goes without saying – completely rests on the parents. The best way to do this is of course, is to lead by example or be a role model. After all, a child’s behavior reflects on his parents. And ultimately, this is what matters in developing your child’s character.
What’s the best age to start?
You’re probably not aware, that you’ve already been teaching your child politeness and etiquette since birth. The manner in which you conduct yourself, the tone and phrases you use are constantly working on your child.
Though its never too early to begin, 16-18 months is when your child will begin to parrot the words she hears you say, even though she doesn’t understand what they mean. So use this to your advantage and repeat yourself as often as you can. Use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ liberally in your daily conversations, so that she gets comfortable with them, and realizes that her requests get granted quicker with simple mention of a polite “please” at the end.
Read: Its OK to be a mean mom!
How to get going?
Teaching your child good manners shouldn’t be an upheaval task if you follow these simple techniques.
Insist, no matter what
Remember it’s the constant monitoring and correcting that works. Be specific and point out what’s right from wrong and insist that good manners are expected of her, no matter what. It may take a while before it becomes conversational routine, but believe me, it’s worth every effort.
Lead by example
Remember, children are great imitators, and they are constantly imbibing and absorbing everything, you say or do. So, if you want them to grow up with good manners, practice what you preach. Its only when you give them respect, you can expect it back from them.
Nothing can be more encouraging and motivating than little words of praise. It works wonders with kids, just as with adults. So don’t hold back when your little learner does something right … she’ll be more than thrilled to hear a “wow” or “good job” from you.
Start with the basics
You can start with teaching them the importance of saying “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” to begin with. They are the most basic and words of kindness, but very powerful, nonetheless. Remember, it may seem like a long haul and could take days or months before she starts using them automatically, but don’t give up.
Some more good manner and etiquette basics that you can stress upon.
• Saying ‘excuse me’ when you want to get attention and join the conversation
• Returning a “how are you?” with “I am fine, thank you. How are you?”
• Saying “hello” to greet a person
• Knocking on doors before entering the room
• Helping an adult without sulking or complaining
• Sharing food when in company of friends
• Interrupting when two people are speaking
• Calling people names and commenting on their physical characteristics
• Cursing and using foul language
• Teasing and bullying
• Back answering
• Picking your nose and yawning without closing your mouth – in public