Sometimes we don’t take much notice of our child’s manners (or lack thereof) until we see them interacting with people outside of the family unit. Sometimes when you are with your children in a social setting you will be aghast at their lack of manners, and at other times, they will do you proud!

There are a lot of ways to start modeling good behavior, no matter the age of your child, just remember to keep your expectations age-appropriate.

Teach your child good manners through your own actions

It’s so easy to tell your children what to do, but it can be more challenging to show them. When you work with them side-by-side and explain why it’s important for them to have good manners, it’s easier for them to grasp the overall concept of good manners and why they are important.

The most effective tool for teaching your child good manners is to model the desired behavior

This is a situation when watching you will likely have the greatest impact on the output. When your child observes you behaving in a mannerly way, they are able to model your behavior and achieve the desired action. Telling your children that they need to practice good manners and then acting in an unmannerly way can make it difficult for them to ever reach the desired behavior.

Practice good eating habits at the family dinner table

Here are the actions that should be practiced at each meal:

  • Set the table properly with all utensils
  • Place your napkin on your lap
  • Chew with your mouth closed

The dinner table provides many great opportunities to teach your child how to act properly. As a family, you can make a comment about placing one’s napkin on the lap as soon as one sits down. Setting the table properly is another great way to instill good habits in your children. Eating with one’s mouth closed and making sure elbows are never on the table are two other important habits that parents can model. Practice makes perfect, but as a parent, it’s important to realize that there may be some evenings when your child just doesn’t have it in them to mind all of their Ps and Qs.

Issue gentle reminders to them to say “Please” and “Thank You”

When your child forgets to say either please or thank you, it’s important that you not chastise them. Simply provide a soft reminder of the importance of using these terms, and help them discover prompts that will make saying please and thank you automatic behavior. It’s better to not use negative consequences for these omissions, and always consider that as they grow older their manners will become more consistent.

Remind them that a little kindness goes a long way

There is nothing more mannerly than being kind to others. And when you instill this mindset from a young age, your child will become a positive force in the lives that they come into contact with. This is another area where your own actions will have a large impact on the outcome. Explore the topic of kindness by asking them to share how they like to be treated. Remind them how they felt when they acted kindly by sharing a specific example. Children like to feel good and it can be helpful to just remind them that they are also capable of causing those good feelings in others.

Try using games to reinforce their lessons

The use of games and activities can be effective methods in helping your children learn good manners. Role-play different scenarios where they will implement good manners, such as meeting someone new or making an introduction. There are a million different scenarios that you can act out to help your child learn how to act in a mannerly fashion in almost every situation. Practice interaction with shop people, other parents, and of course their fellow students. Begin to introduce behaviors that can be used to diffuse uncomfortable or negative situations through role-playing.

With a little attention to detail and a lot of repetition, it can be easy to instill good manners in your children. Make sure that you are being consistent in both your actions and your words, and remember that it’s going to take some time and practice for them to really “get it” and adopt a mindset that includes good manners. Good luck!