One of my son’s friends (5 year old girl), stays is at our house quite often. One day, my husband was taking them to an afternoon activity and she said, “give me my jacket!” My husband, who is English and was raised where manners was highly important, looked at her and said, “please ask nicely and I will gladly give it to you.”
She looked at him, shocked and again said, “give me my jacket!”
Of course, this went on a few times, because my husband has a very high tolerance for pain. She eventually cried and never got the jacket.
A week later, a friend of ours, who moved to the U.S. just a little under 5 years said, “one of the things I could never really understand is the lack manners people seem to have here. For example, I notice when people ask for things in public places, the words, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are hardly ever included.”
It was so interesting she pointed it out, because my husband and I had actually just discussed this after noticing the following sign posted in front of our local post office:
I have no idea why the ‘please’ was crossed out. Could it be because they were trying to tell us just how serious they were? That perhaps the word “Please” made it look as if they were requesting it rather than demanding it?
The Positive Benefits of Having Manners
Having manners doesn’t cost a thing and instilling them in our kids can create a tremendous amount of benefits for them. In fact, it helps them form better communication skills with others and according to Dr. Sears, it’s one of the most valuable tools they can have.
Good manners make it easy to have proper etiquette, which is a great quality to have, because it shows people just how much you appreciate them. For example, if you were to introduce your girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner to someone important to you, you would hope both parties would get along. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? of course, their first impressions of each other are very important, especially if each party can determine the future of their relationship based on what they see.
Good manners can portray other good qualities in a person. Trust, for example, is easier to bestow on someone if they are polite and appears to have good character traits. Someone who is rude and lacks any manners may be assumed to have negative qualities, which may not be good for present and future endeavors.
Instilling good manners means being able to understand what they are. For example, gratitude is to be thankful. Please is used to be polite. Excuse me is the least offensive way to interrupt or get through to another without offending them.
5 Helpful Ways to Instill Good Manners in Your Kids
Because my husband feels very strongly about instilling good manners in my son, we made sure to start early. Of course, we don’t claim to have a perfect little 5 year old by any means, but we are hopeful in being able to help him towards his understanding of the relationship between good manners, respect, kindness, and patience are.
Teachers can only do so much. Good manners begin with what your child picks up at home. Here are 5 tips to help you instill good manners in your kids:
- Lead by example
- Reward or Recognize
Parents are our kids best role models. Regardless of how much we feel our kids actually listen to us, they do mimic is in many ways. We are the most important people in their lives and typically, most kids value the opinions their parents have of them.
Kids pay very close attention to their parents. Parents may not always think this, but many kids measure their self-worth based on their parents’ point of view. So when parents do something wrong, kids latch onto it and remember it so they can somehow use it to justify their actions for any future mishaps.
Lead by example and do as you would want your kids to do as as you would want your kids to be and be treated in return. Personal experiences are the best ways to learn!
I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Patience is a Virtue!” And it is, because patience is much more than something that can be learned. It involves acceptance and the need to pursue something without the need of inappropriate or negative behavior. Slowly waiting for your turn can help our kids learn that it’s better to gain something with patience, rather than abrupt, rude, or possibly inappropriate, hurtful behavior, which has the potential for more catastrophic results.
When your kids do something good, let them know it. Kids love recognition, especially for the good stuff. This will help encourage them to do more positive things, which in turn helps them towards the understanding of good manners and right conduct.
Sometimes, listening can be much more effective than lashing. Think of the many times you’ve been angry. What resulted from all your screaming and yelling? How about the times your kids have really upset you? How did they respond after you talked over them?
Your kids have probably stomped off feeling mad or maybe even started crying. Perhaps even resentful?
Listening helps develop good manners in kids as they begin to understand the true meaning of respect. Listening and doing your best to understand the situation from your kids’ point of view will help them develop the skills to have a more open mind about situations with respect and good manners to follow.
Be nice. It’s that simple! Our kids can see the way you treat others. If you want them to be nice, it could only be done naturally if they know how to be.