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Miniature Manners

Sometimes it is actually about teaching your kids manners.

By
Trent Armstrong,
January 12, 2009
Episode #061

We had a chat in an earlier episode about parents' manners. To keep the theme going I've asked Mighty Mommy from the Quick and Dirty Tips Network to join us in this podcast to talk about teaching manners to children.

Okay. Mighty Mommy! It's a pleasure to have you on the show.

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Thank you for having me. I’m always happy to talk about parenting.

I have two children and I’m proud to say that both of them are very polite … most of the time. My husband and I always try to use good manners. When we are around our friends and family, they are polite and courteous. It simply makes sense that our children would follow suit. Teaching your children to use good manners in their everyday behavior is easier than you might expect.

Modeling Manners

The first step to having polite children is to be a polite parent, friend, neighbor, or colleague. Even if you are interacting with a complete stranger, it’s best to use your good manners. I want to briefly mention that although it isn’t good to encourage your child to talk to strangers, there are certain situations where I feel a simple return greeting or “thank you” for a compliment is acceptable. I’ll be talking about stranger danger in a future episode.

Modeling good manners is the best way to teach your children how to be polite, courteous people. You should say “please” and “thank you” when speaking directly to your children. “Please hand me your cup.” “Thank you for playing so nicely with your friends today.” It is also important that you model good manners with other adults. Nobody is perfect, but we can always try to be polite. If you slip up once in a while, your kids might even start correcting you. If you don’t feel you’ve always used your best manners with people, now is a great time to change. Kids will mimic their parents’ behavior even if they don’t realize it. So, start right away.

Positive Reinforcement

Once your child starts displaying good manners, be sure to give recognition for the behavior. Whether she’s saying “please” and “thank you” or sharing her toys with a friend, tell her you are proud of her and appreciate that she’s being so polite. Positive reinforcement will encourage your child to continue good behavior. I often find myself saying, “Thank you for using such good manners.” My daughter generally responds by smiling and saying, “You’re welcome!” She knows she’s done a good job and she’s very proud of it.

Prompt Prompting

Another helpful tip I’ve learned to help a child remember to be polite is to give her some lead-in words or ask a question. If you’ve ever been around a mom with her children for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the mom ask the child, “Now, what do you say?” The child almost always follows with either “Thank you,” or “I’m sorry.” My daughter used to apologize almost every time, but with practice, she’s figured out which response fits with each situation. We are currently working on saying, “You’re welcome,” and my daughter is very quick to let me know if I’ve neglected to respond adequately after she has thanked me.

Practice Makes Perfect

My final tip to encourage good manners is making sure you are giving your child ample opportunities to use her learned manners. Eating out, attending play dates, and having friends over are all situations where your child can practice being polite. Greeting friends, sharing toys, excusing herself when she burps, and having patience to wait for mommy or daddy to finish talking are all great times to use good manners.

Thank you again for having me on the show. I appreciate the opportunity to share with your listeners. If you’d like to hear more fun parenting tips, you can hear me on Mighty Mommy podcast.

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Thank you, Mighty Mommy, for joining us. Now, Mighty Mommy isn't the only other impressively useful podcast in the Quick and Dirty Tips Network. With the new year comes a list of resolutions, and one of those is typically altering the way we eat. And there is no better place to look for advice than The Nutrition Diva.

Transcripts of The Modern Manners Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Polite Life can be found at manners.quickanddirtytips.com.

If you have any comments or questions, please email manners@quickanddirtytips.com or find me on Twitter.

The Modern Manners Guy is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network.

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