How to teach manners to the very young



Politeness doesn't have to be a battle

Politeness doesn't have to be a battle


Different parents have different standards for polite behavior when it comes to children, especially little ones. But eventually we all want kids who are considerate and not rude to others. Here are four ways to shape good manners in the very young, as suggested by mom and writer Emma Freire

Set standards ahead of time. Before bringing your children into a situation where you expect polite behavior, explain what you want from them. For a visit to an unfamiliar neighbor, you might tell them to say hello, greet the person by name, and give their own name. You could even act out this little scenario together before leaving the house.

Display your own good manners consistently. Children are bound to imitate us, whether we notice it or not. If you want your children to learn to say “please” and “thank you,” make a habit of using those words yourself around the house. Even though it might seem unnecessarily formal in a family context, your example will have an impact on kids.

Related: Raising kind kids

Praise proper behavior. Compliments are more effective than criticism, so be responsive to the moments when your kids show good manners. At those times when they forget, or their behavior is less than stellar, you might point out what you'd prefer to see, if it seems appropriate. But don't belabor the issue. There are instances where it's best to let it go and wait for an occasion to offer praise.

Bring in other authorities. Your influence may wear thin after a while, but you can appeal to the outside world for help. Freire gives the example of her five-year-old daughter, a fan of princesses. When she calls food at the table “yucky,” her mother points out that a princess would never use such a word.

Don't expect your education process to instantly produce ideal behavior. All kids have rebellious periods, and it's not worth getting into battles over manners. But consistent, gentle reminders will eventually yield results.



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