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Insisting on good manners from your kids

 Photo; Courtesy

A child who never learns how to be polite becomes a teenager who has trouble making friends and an adult who makes a poor impression. There’s no better way to help your child make friends and influence people than to teach her good manners.

Bad manners cost your children big-time

Children who are allowed to grow up engaging in rude, disrespectful, or impolite behavior are generally not well liked by others, as children and later as adults.

Self-esteem problems often result when peers avoid your child, and it’s tough to change others’ perceptions once your child has been marked as rude or disrespectful. That’s why it’s important to confront the issue now when your child is sarcastic, caustic, or impolite to family members or friends.

What you should do

Teach the magic words: Please, thank you, and excuse me are still the basics of a polite vocabulary, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that just because you remind your kids to use these words that they will do so automatically. As with any habit, it takes consistency to instill a new behavior. Your children need consistent reminders until the magic words become second nature.

Talk about it

Discuss with your children what words you’d like them to use to get your attention. Instead of interrupting, say “excuse me.” It’s important for parents to regularly use these respectful words and phrases themselves when interacting with their children-modeling goes a long way toward teaching, reinforcing, and maintaining polite communication and behavior.

Coach children to ask not demand

Children get into the habit of insisting on privileges or your attention, rather than coming across as requesting it. Although their intentions may be appropriate (they think they are asking, not demanding), many don’t understand how their words are perceived by others. Teach them that a request is something that usually is in question form (May I please...). Rather than a statement (Give me the...). That’s a safe way of assuring that they’ll be perceived as asking, rather than as meaning.

Focus on tone of voice

Many children have no clue how they’re perceived by others. Little ones can appear to be whiney when they believe they are just expressing their feelings, and teens often seem argumentative when they’re trying to make a point. Teach your children that they’re responsible for both their intent as well as the way that they come across to others. Stop it by pointing out the tone and its inappropriateness.

Say, “You’re whining. If you’d like me to help you, you must ask politely.” That’s a life lesson that is invaluable – many adults ruin perfectly good relationships by relating in an inappropriate tone of voice, pitch, or volume.

Teach the 'I message' technique

We all become angry or frustrated by others’ behaviors once in a while, and for some children, it’s an almost daily occurrence. Instead of allowing them to lash out, teach them the “I message” technique of describing what is bothering them. The basic structure of this technique is to state “I feel.....when you....” For instance, calmly stating “I get irritated when you come into my room and mess with my stuff without permission,” is significantly more acceptable (and effective) than, “Get out of my room, you rogue!”

Dial up manners

Teach them that if they’re to answer the telephone, it must be done politely. “John’s residence” is not only polite but also lets the caller know whether the correct number has been dialed.

And anyone who answers the telephone (mum or dad included) should be expected to write own any message taken and to give these to the intended person in a timely manner.

When phoning out, instruct your children that they should first introduce themselves and then ask for their friend.

“Hi, this is John. Is James home?” presents beautifully and gets the message across clearly.

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