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Expert Shares How To Promote Positive Manners In Children

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Expert Shares How To Promote Positive Manners In Children

Of course, we acknowledge that comparing your child to others is an absolute taboo for optimal self-esteem—not only theirs but your own. Nevertheless, it’s challenging to not be at least a little charmed by children who demonstrate good conduct. That said, witnessing it is one thing—nurturing your child to possess good manners is another.

We’re not implying that you need to alter anything about your child or your parenting approach. However, if you’re beginning to consider from a place of inspiration that it would be beneficial to foster good behavior in your child’s development and well-being, then please feel free to begin here!

Good manners embody more than one might assume. While it involves learning to say ‘excuse me’ or wait your turn, it also encompasses being candid and expressing oneself confidently. Encouraging good manners in your child equips them for success—both in the present and for their future. It commences at home and in school and extends to their future careers and other pursuits. How they learn to conduct themselves and treat others can influence their ability to thrive, experience happiness, and form enduring relationships.

Reflecting on it, what child feels content being consistently reprimanded or penalized for a behavior that likely, in some way, links back to an unfavorable manner? We aim to address that. At least to some extent! We’ve conducted research and consulted with an expert on how to promote good manners with your child, condensing this into more than 10 straightforward tips that you can begin implementing as soon as today. Keep reading to discover more!

The Significance of Good Manners

We had the privilege of conversing with Elaine Swann, who boasts over 20 years of experience enriching individuals of all ages in etiquette, social skills, and cultivating the best version of oneself. She has been featured across prominent media platforms and publications and is esteemed by prestigious businesses and universities globally. When we inquired why instilling good manners is important, Ms. Swann’s response revolved around the perspectives of the parent and the child.

Founder and CEO of The Swann School of Protocol, the first-ever Black and female-owned etiquette licensing program.

“As parents, our aim is to prepare our child to be a contributing member of society and our community,” expressed Ms. Swann. “It’s not something that emerges later in life, and it’s not something that can be arbitrarily assigned and simply realized. It truly is a lifestyle adopted from early on… this is what helps them [mature and] navigate the world as a well-developed adult and responsible citizen,” she continued. Essentially, by consciously fostering good manners in your child, you are ensuring that they receive adequate exposure and practice to support their success in the evolving world around them.

From the child’s viewpoint, Ms. Swann underlined that having good manners “makes their world easier to navigate.” She pointed out, “If you’re engaging in something that upsets someone else—if you’re not being honest with your parents, if you’re being disrespectful—there are repercussions. For a young child, instead of contending with the consequences… life becomes smoother.” In other words, children actually feel better when they’re behaving in agreeable ways.

Overall, Ms. Swann stressed that good manners enhance a child’s social skills, elevate their emotional intelligence, and create opportunities for future triumphs. “Helping them comprehend how their behaviors and actions can influence other people is integral to laying one of the best foundations for them,” she encourages. It’s typical to concentrate on how our children learn about emotions and cultivate empathy. Integrating these skills with their association with good manners can help them grasp some of the more nuanced ways that their daily actions affect both their emotions and those of others.

What Qualifies as ‘Good Manners’?

If you were to ask various individuals, they would likely provide somewhat differing interpretations. Your own perspective and upbringing influence what you consider as ‘good’ behavior standards. Nevertheless, there are certain aspects that most of us can agree upon, such as respect.

When we asked her about the most crucial manners for children today, Ms. Swann promptly cited, “Demonstrating respect towards others.” Respect serves as one of the three “fundamental values” around which she bases her etiquette education. The other two values are consideration and honesty. By guiding children to develop a deep understanding of these core values, their noble traits are illuminated. By committing to respecting others, being considerate of their thoughts and feelings, and speaking the truth, they are ensuring they conduct themselves in ways that positively influence people and situations.

To Foster Good Manners, Begin with ‘Fundamental Values’

Moreover, commencing with specific core values can facilitate the assimilation of various other good manners you may wish to cultivate. For instance, waiting turns or refraining from name-calling fall under the purview of respect and consideration; being truthful about completing homework or behaving well at a friend’s house aligns with all three values. Regardless of your approach—whether concentrating on a couple of core values or delving into more specific good manners—here’s a selection of concepts to kick-start your journey:

  • Assisting (around the house, on errands, in the classroom, towards family/friends, and so on)
  • Expressing admiration for others
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Sharing with others
  • Respecting others, particularly elders
  • Waiting for their turn
  • Being honest when asked a question
  • Using ‘Excuse me’
  • Staying patient
  • Offering ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’

Pointers for Encouraging Good Manners

1. Determine which manners to foster

While it would be admirable if children exhibited all the behaviors we hope for, the reality is that children will be children. (After all, it’s not as though we adults consistently behave exactly as intended either!) With that in mind, it’s crucial to recognize that it’s more realistic and beneficial to focus on gradual steps towards developing good manners, rather than expecting perfection right from the start. Start by identifying which specific manners are important for your child to grasp and emphasize these initially. Over time, you can gradually introduce and reinforce additional manners as they progress in understanding and application.

Bear in mind, it’s crucial to specify exactly which etiquette you’d like to see your child practice. Naturally, your choice will depend on your child’s stage of development. Yet, any behaviors you deem valuable can still be exemplified for them in advance!

After pinpointing the potential manners you wish to start focusing on, consider how you can introduce them gradually. For instance, if you have a few in mind, it may not be practical to address them all at once. It’s also important to consider the level of difficulty of each manner and start with the easier ones. In essence, start introducing your targeted manners in a way that sets them up for success. Here are some practical ideas for doing so.

2. Clearly communicate the manners you are addressing

If you don’t explicitly teach your child which manners you expect them to display, how will they confidently grasp them? You can incorporate them into your interactions in a more natural manner as you move forward. However, trying to enforce them without a proper introduction could lead to confusion.

Select a time when your child is most relaxed and open to communication. Then, decide on the best approach to initiate a discussion about good manners together. You can explore their meaning, significance, and relevance in various situations. Take into account your child’s age, temperament, and observed behaviors to guide your conversation. They might already have a good understanding of good manners, or it might be a new concept for them. Through these discussions, your child might surprise you by expressing their own ideas about the manners they are most eager to work on!

3. Demonstrate the manners genuinely

This may be the most apparent suggestion, but it’s important to recognize how influential our behaviors are to children. There’s a reason why they are quick to imitate what you’ve said when you’ve emphatically uttered a swear word. It’s a memorable event, and they are paying attention. When it comes to good manners, this is an opportunity to be mindful of how frequently and consistently you demonstrate them yourself.

You don’t need to exaggerate or be insincere when displaying them in order to be effective. In fact, children are perceptive and likely to see through that. Instead, reflect on typical scenarios in your daily life. Where can you exemplify good manners? Will you be in social settings where you can warmly greet someone you know? Are you going shopping with your child where you can demonstrate patiently waiting in line? You get the idea.

4. Put your child in a contrasting position

Sometimes, the most impactful lessons are learned when your child experiences the receiving end. If your child proactively demonstrates good manners without prompting, that’s wonderful. But if they are not quite sticking, then consider putting them in the opposite position, either literally or figuratively, regardless of their age. This gives them the opportunity to understand the impact of not displaying the expected manners. At each stage of their development, children encounter scenarios relevant to their world and their concerns.

How do they feel when they are interrupted? How do they react when faced with a situation where someone’s actions go against the expected manners? You may choose to create real-life situations for them to experience, or simply ask them to imagine how they would feel in certain scenarios.

5. Establish a system of rewards

A lighthearted reward system can serve as a great incentive to promote good manners. When you observe the manners you have been practicing together, offer them a relevant reward that brings them joy and reinforces their motivation to continue displaying those manners.

For example, if your child does a commendable job of sharing toys or taking turns speaking with a sibling or friends, you could allow them to speak first at the dinner table next time or let them use their preferred toys first during their next playtime.

6. Utilize positive reinforcement

Whether it’s manners you have specifically addressed with your child or just polite behaviors in general, make sure to praise them. Acknowledging their good behavior in the moment and expressing pride in their actions can go a long way in reinforcing future positive behavior. You could even create a chart together to showcase all the positive moments your child has had while displaying good manners.

It might also be beneficial to collaborate with your child’s teacher regarding the manners that are likely to be displayed in the classroom. If you are keen on your child mastering these particular manners, involving other relevant adults who are invested in your child’s well-being can definitely be helpful.

7. Turn it into a game

Challenge your child to see how many instances of good manners they can spot in a day. Keep a tally of their observations. It may sound simple, but the more they pay attention to the prevalence of good manners, the more likely it is to influence their own choices and behaviors.

If you want to take it a step further, encourage your child to delve deeper into their observations. Ask them to explain why a specific manner was useful in a given context and how the person demonstrated good manners.

8. Establish a screen-free zone

Identify a time or space where it is understood that no screens or devices will be used. Similar to a family digital detox, this redirects your child’s attention to the people in their immediate surroundings. This creates an additional opportunity for them to express themselves in considerate ways.

Whether it is in the family room, at the dinner table, or during the hour before bedtime, they are more likely to focus on manners related to their social skills, such as sharing, making eye contact, or being helpful. Constantly being engaged with devices diminishes opportunities to refine the way we treat our loved ones, and by extension, everyone else. By setting up a tech-free zone, you are creating additional space for good manners and quality time, too!

9. Use movies, TV shows, and books as points of reference

Examples of good and bad manners are prevalent in various forms of media. You can use your child’s favorite characters and stories to illustrate the importance of manners in their lives, whether they are just beginning to understand their significance or have already developed an awareness of them.they adore showcasing positive examples. However, if your little one already possesses a grasp of the fundamentals, they can identify instances of kind and unkind behavior. Children often deeply connect with specific characters, too. You can provide them with that additional motivation by reminding them that’s precisely what that person would do!

10. Allocate time for contemplation and adaptation

As with adopting any new behavior or routine, conducting a review to assess your child’s progress and milestones can be beneficial. Are you witnessing them effectively demonstrate the good manners you’ve (or they’ve) aimed to work on? Do they need reminders from you to do them, or do they feel compelled to do them independently? Are these manners a good match and worth continuing to prioritize? Determine what appears to be rational in terms of next actions.

If your child is old enough, they can engage in this introspection with you. Celebrate their successes. Are there standout moments? Have they mastered a specific manner or two? Have their good manners brought joy to others? Hopefully, you’re able to genuinely express to them—irrespective of how ‘successful’ they’ve been so far—that you can discern they’ve been giving their all.

11. Express your appreciation

It can seem like we request so much from our kids. From new skills and activities to aiding with tasks, forging friendships, and excelling as a diligent student, there’s no shortage of things we assign to them. Even when it’s all for their own benefit. Letting them know that you’re grateful for their decision to promote good manners can be the extra boost of encouragement. It’s heartening to be aware of the value of your efforts, and a sincere thank you every now and then can signal your acknowledgment of your child.

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