Isn’t it funny how children absorb information like sponges and repeat everything you say and do (usually at the wrong time?)…
Because of this, manners need to be shown, taught and enforced on a daily basis.
I myself was sent to etiquette school during my early teenage years, and it is very average for parents to continue to send kids off to “charm” school.
However, it is important to remember those good manners go beyond using the correct fork during dinner time but focus more so on the awareness of surroundings.
Teaching kids that their behaviour can affect others is teaching them about their manners.
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Teaching Kids Manners
The sooner you start to teach your children manners, the sooner they will start using them, even if you’re not around. They will learn how to use their manners from you, so it is important that you are modelling the behaviour that you want to see from them.
A significant factor in teaching manners successfully is making sure that the manners you teach are age-appropriate. You can’t expect a 2-year-old to say, thank you for the meal, may I please be excused from the table? But you can expect a “thank you” and possibly take their plate back into the kitchen before going off to play.
Also a 2-year-old will have a much harder time looking someone in the eye when speaking to them, whereas a 5-year-old should have no trouble looking at the person they are speaking to.
I count my lucky stars on the daily because my 2 boys, ages 3 and 6 have the nicest manners and I honestly don’t remember teaching them any! Because children are like sponges, they will learn a lot of their manners from the adults that they are surrounded by. So I guess my etiquette schooling from when I was younger paid off…thanks Dad!
To recap, the key things to remember when teaching children manners are that you are their number 1 role model, manners should be taught to appropriate age and skill level, and lastly, encourage the use of manners by acknowledging and celebrating when manners are used.
Manners During Playdates
What a great time to practice manners- playdates!
Set your child up for success by making sure they are well-rested and comfortable during their playdate.
It’s a good idea to also remind your child what kind of behaviour you expect from them while on a playdate and remind them to say “please” and “thank you”.
If your child forgets to use manners, simply prompt them to use their manners by suggesting the use of nice words in return for a kind action. an example of this would be “Please thank Mrs. Smith for the juice box”.
When sharing goes wrong, simply step in and acknowledge that the actions that occurred made our friends and ourselves feel bad and we should make them feel better by using polite words such as “I’m sorry”.
Ensure to prompt a ” thank you” at the end of the playdate to remind your child to use their manners when they have a nice time with someone else.
Basic Manners Your Children Should Know
By the end of toddlerhood (age 3) your child should be able to sit at the table for 20-30 minutes and eat a meal. Discourage food throwing and encourage sitting nicely facing the table and wiping their mouths when finished eating.
You can also encourage the use of utensils starting at age 2.5 and prompting your child to say please and thank you when asking for extra water or more food during mealtime.
For older children, the table manner expectation is that they stick around at the table until everyone has finished eating. It is also polite to try to eat everything off of their plate before putting the plate away in the kitchen. When my children correctly behave after a meal, I always reward them with some sort of after-dinner treat such as a popsicle or maybe even some video game time.
Young kids are usually able to apologize from the time they are able to speak, however, it is difficult to expect them to understand their apology until they are about 3 years old.
Try to prompt an apology every time you see someone has hurt feelings, especially if they were caused by the child whom you want to learn how to apologize.
Gently saying “wow, Tommy looks really hurt. When we hurt someone, we need to say I’m sorry”. You can explain the meaning of the apology in the privacy of your own home at a later time if needed. Sometimes it takes a little while for kids to pick up on feelings of empathy so the concept could be harder to grasp right away.
Imagine the children are playing together and each child wants the same toy. The best way to approach this sharing situation is to allow your child to finish playing with their toy and THEN share it with a friend.
When you allow your child to make this decision to share you are teaching them positive assertiveness which in turn teaches confidence and raises self-esteem.
Mind You Manners Tips For Parents
1. Good manners come from good habits.
It takes time to form good habits and it can take time to form good manners. They say it takes someone 66 days in a row to form a constant habit. That’s a lot of repetition!
2. Consistency is important.
When teaching manners, it is important to constantly teach the same lessons until they are learned. It’s not a good idea to look the other way on manners one day and be on them like “white on rice” at other times.
3. Learning manners is never-ending.
Manners cannot be generally taught overnight. A lot of times, manners are taught throughout the years in different situations.
Even as adults, we learn different ways to interact with different kinds of people, meaning we are developing the way we use our manners.
4. Nice behaviour will help form friendships.
Ill-mannered children are at a huge disadvantage. Children are not likely to be upset with a playmate for not using their manners, however parents could be turned off by the child who is not using their manners around their own child.
It can be difficult to keep friends with a child who doesn’t use their manners and you wouldn’t want your child to pick up any extra bad habits along the way.
5. Your Behaviour Counts.
Remember that everything you say and do gets absorbed by the little people that you are surrounded by. Make sure you are using your manners and your kids will be using theirs without you even having to try and remind them.