Friday, January 6, 2012

Teaching Manners, A lifetime job

I don't consider myself an Expert on Manners. More of a "Student"! I've read many books
on the subject. There are hundreds of websites and occasionally a story in the news.

Most of the time the message is the same. Kind and Courteous behavior with a certain grace.

Teaching manners to children at home can be tricky because it may seem like we're nagging!

I believe that our children's behavior is a reflection on our parenting. All kids misbehave from time to time. But I am talking about their normal behavior.

Let me give you an example:
I work in a mall with table and chairs, benches and rocking chairs set up in the hall. We're on the upper level at the end of the hall. Many times I have heard children running up and down the hall. When I go out to make sure that they don't get hurt the parents are sitting chatting while their children run, yell and play on the escalator! Harmless right?

My 1st reaction is "What are you thinking?" This is not ok on so many levels!
You can't hold children responsible if the parents think that's ok.

Where do I start?

Running and Yelling is good healthy kid stuff! In the park, outside or even an indoor playground. But not in a mall.

The escalator is very dangerous and yet I see parents actually playing on it WITH the child!

Yes, even young children should be expected to behave respectful in a public place.
It's not the easiest thing to teach. The most valuable parenting advice my Mother in law
ever shared with me is that it is much easier to say yes to your child but it's not always the right thing to do. It is harder to say no and follow through!

This is true when your children are 3 years old and when they are 14 years old.

My job of teaching my children manners is just beginning. When they were toddlers
we integrated basic manners like please and thank you. We also set boundaries and expectations at every stage based on their level of comprehension.
Examples of expectations are:
  • Sitting through dinner without running around the restaurant and why.
  • Telling the server what you would like to eat by looking them in the eye and being polite by saying please and why.
  • Making sure to thank your friend's parents for having them over for dinner or giving them a ride and why.
  • Reminding them to listen when their teachers are talking and why!
At 12 and 14 my children get the picture of what we expect from behavior most of the time.
But there is still so much to do! Now that they are old enough we can now teach them the details on how to use these important skills.
I love having conversations with them about posture, tone of voice, communicating their preferences.

Now if I could just get them interested in learning how to set a proper table!

I still have a great deal of work to do....

Inspiringly Yours,

Tracey Wormsbacher

Up next: "Manners by the age"

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