I know I have written before about having house rules and how very important these are for a healthy, happy family. If you missed that post you can find it here –> How To Create Solid House Rules For Your Family Another extremely important part of parenting is teaching our kids good manners. Good manners will help your child gain self-esteem and confidence and improve their social skills.
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Remember that teaching good manners begins by modeling good manners. So remember to practice what you preach and not to expect your children to be consistent with manners you don’t display yourself. Let’s talk about ten important manners every child can learn at home.
List of Good Manners
- Say please and thank you.
- Wait your turn to speak.
- Hygiene rules such as to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Table rules such as chewing with your mouth closed.
- Be kind with examples such as holding the door for others.
- Respect personal space.
- Respect others’ property.
- Be a good sport.
Learning Good Manners
Saying please and thank you…
When we encourage our children to consistently say please and thank you we are teaching them the value of respecting others, speaking kindly, and expressing gratitude. These are all important character development skills that will take them far.
One of the best ways to teach our kids to say please and thank you is by modeling. They notice what we say and do and will copy our behavior. Be sure to let them know that you notice and appreciate their use of please and thank you with praise or acknowledgment. You may also consider a star chart like the one included at the end of the post to help them practice their manners until they become good habits.
Wait your turn to speak…
This is harder for some kids than others but an essential life skill that kids need to understand early. Do not interrupt. Good communication skills will assist them in developing and maintaining their relationships.
There are many ways you can teach this skill but the most simple and effective one we tried was simply roleplaying. Practicing taking turns in a conversation is a great starting point. If this is not enough then you might use a prop while practicing, say a stress ball, and whoever is holding it has their turn to talk while others wait their turn.
Finally, playing games that require turn-taking is a great way to sharpen these skills.
There are several manners that follow under this category but in today’s world the two you might begin focusing on are covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze and good hand washing skills including before eating, after using the bathroom, and after handling pets.
The best way to teach these skills is with friendly reminders and acknowledging good behavior when you catch them practicing these manners. And again, modeling the behavior. Recently a principal went viral for encouraging kids to ‘dab’ when they cough or sneeze so that they would be sneezing or coughing into their elbow.
As far as hand washing I am a fan of teaching kids a simple poem (print and frame the little poem in the Good Manners Pack below for an every wash reminder.) We know that we want to be sure kids are using soap and washing for about twenty seconds. Be present to assure they remember their suds, and help them learn the poem or count to twenty until they have developed a good practice.
Table manners vary from household to household. Mine include waiting until everyone is served before we begin eating, keeping our elbows off the table, and a napkin in our lap. Also, we never chew with our mouths open, and we ask permission to be excused. Make a list of the table manners you expect at your house and then model the behaviors.
Remind your kids what the manners are before dinner if they have been struggling with some. And practice in fun ways such as having tea parties or role-playing. Table Manners make for great opportunities to earn stars for their good manner star chart too.
There are a lot of ways to teach our kids how to be kind. As far as manners go; teaching them to hold open doors, offer assistance, be generous, not be bossy, and be cooperative are some of the ones you can start with.
Make suggestions when you see opportunities for them to be kind and help them to follow through. Also, acknowledging and mentioning their kindness will help them to place value on these actions, and eventually, with enough practice, they will become good habits and great manners.
Respect Personal Space
Personal space is something that needs to be respected but this instinct does not come naturally to all. Try grabbing two hula hoops and practice having a conversation while each person stays in the center of their hula hoop. Explain this distance from each other is the goal. Then practice again without the hoops reminding them to imagine the hula hoop and maintain the space. If you don’t have hula hoops go outside on the sidewalk and draw circles that are between 18 and 24 inches across. You can also use string outlines to practice inside.
Finally, teaching kids not to follow when someone steps back is best done with practice. So practice, praise their efforts, gently point out where improvement is needed and before long your child should start using these skills without thinking about it.
Respect Personal Property
To begin learning how to respect the property of others, children need to understand that the value that they personally place on the property doesn’t actually matter. Whether they think the property is worth a million dollars or worthless is irrelevant. Instead, it is the desire to love and respect the owner of the property that is being acknowledged.
Teach them how to care for their property as well as that of others. Give them opportunities to be responsible for valuables and guide them in how to care for things. A good starting point is with a library book. Teach them that they are borrowing a book. It needs to be kept clean and intact and returned in good condition. The book should be placed in a certain area so that is not displaced. It should be well taken care of and returned with a thank you.
If a child does damage their property or someone else’s you may begin addressing it by teaching your child to apologize and take ownership of the situation. Then, reflect upon what actions or behavior could have prevented the loss. Finally, it is a good idea to have them work to replace the property. Having them earn the new property will help them to recognize the value in it as well as understand that there are consequences to being careless with possessions.
Praise good behavior, model good patterns, share ways in which you respect your personal property and that which is entrusted to you, and give them opportunities to do the same.
Be a good sport…
Your child does not need to play sports to learn to be a good sport. The skills and manners you are seeking to teach your child are how to play fair, follow directions, encourage their teammates or peers, allow others a turn to play, be kind to the other team, and shake hands and be kind regardless of the outcome.
The best way to teach these important skills and develop good manners in sportsmanship and play is again to model the behavior yourself. But also, be a coach. Give your child opportunities to be exposed to these situations and teach the rules with consistency and kindness.
Get them involved with sports, drama, or other activities that let them practice these skills and again praise their efforts and thank them for their good manners.
No one makes it through life without needing to know how to deliver a sincere apology. All of our kids need this skill as much as we do. Begin by helping them understand when an apology is appropriate. Help them to empathize with the person they are apologizing to. Encourage them to admit to and acknowledge their mistake honestly and how it affected the person they are apologizing to. Finally, teach them that every good apology includes an offer to try to correct the mistake if possible or change the behavior.
Teaching kids to share is not always easy. Especially with an only child. But it can and must be done. Sharing is important for your child’s future collaborations, ability to cooperate, and also for their teamwork skills.
A good place to begin is by presenting your child with things that are meant to be shared from the start. When you see your child sharing be sure to offer plenty of positive reinforcement. Move on from there to encourage your child to share more personal toys. If this is very difficult for them you might begin by using a timer and say something like,
“Your sister is going to play with the toy you are sharing for a few minutes. When the timer goes off, it will be your turn to play with it again. Once your time is up, you will share it with your sister again. I am grateful that you are so good at sharing your toys and I appreciate your kindness. I think your sister does too!”
Also, let your child know that it is ok to have some things that are very special and may be best put away during times when sharing is expected. For example, a favorite toy could be put up before friends come over for a play date.
Ok, there we have ten good manners to teach our kids. I have put together some star charts for you and included a copy of the hand washing song for your family. Because ten manners is a lot to practice in the beginning, I have split the list up into two charts with five good manners to practice on each. You can print those below for free! Make sure to print in landscape form.
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