How to Teach Your Kids Manners

in

Parenting expert Kathy Buckworth believes it's a parent's duty to teach their kids manners. From the eating to technology, here are her top tips for creating good behaviour.

mother teaching daughter table manners
Photo Credit: iStock.com

Manners for Play

A big part of socialization is using appropriate manners and behaving in a respectful way towards others, no matter what your age. 

Younger kids: Sharing, being respectful of others property, saying please and thank you, not grabbing at others toys or ruining them.
School age kids: Returning things in good shape and on time, acting as a host when friends are over and not fighting over video games, television shows. Offering food and drinks to guests first, instead of taking the biggest slice.
Older kids: Putting the needs of others first. Making sure guests are comfortable, paying your own way, offering to help when help is needed.

How do we do this? By catching them doing something right. Make sure not to just criticize if they break one of these rules, but compliment them when they take initiative to behave well.

Manners for Dining

From eating in restaurants, to eating at family and friends' houses, when it comes to teaching table manners, it all starts at home.

Younger kids: Teaching them to sit still, not play with their food, make a mess, or make a fuss if they don't like what they're eating. Picky eaters are often born at this stage.
School age kids: How to hold their cutlery, waiting until all have been seated before starting, and not saying 'YUCK". Politely asking for more and not getting own from the table before appropriate. Asking parents what is appropriate for them to order in a restaurant, ordering for themselves.
Older kids: Being a good conversationalist, complimenting the food, helping with meal prep and clean up. Getting excited about trying new foods, instead of fighting it or being difficult.

Try this at home: Have a more formal dinner one night a week (Sundays are popular with families).

Manners for Every Day

These are manners that make the world a more civilized place to live, and in the future will help kids get jobs and advance both professionally and personally.

Being on time: The most important manner in my opinion. If parents are late, it teaches their kids that they don't have to be respectful of other people's time, and it promotes bad planning. Teach your kids how long it takes to do certain tasks, and always attempt to be on time or apologize and make amends if you are late. It is a big deal.
Visiting manners: Ringing doorbell, taking off their shoes, hanging up coat, not running down halls, picking up things that aren't theirs, turning on T.V. or other technology without permission, not grabbing food or not cleaning up a mess or a game. Thanking hosts for having them.
Talking manners: Not interrupting conversations — parents, other adults and even fellow kids. Not addressing adults as "dude" or "you guys". Keeping language clean and appropriate.

How to teach it: Explaining consequences — from hurt feelings, to missing opportunities — helps. Use a birthday as a way to teach kids to say thank you and consider the thought behind the gift.

Again, make sure to praise when the kids act appropriately, not just disciplining them when they don't. Advise them to always use their filter, depending on the situation they are in. Gentle correction can go a long way. Give examples of the behaviour you don't approve of, so the kids can see the difference.

Manners for Technology

Electronic device etiquette is new to this generation, but we need to set up boundaries and manners around new technology while they are young!

Respect time restraints: Set time limits for screens and teach self-regulation by sticking to schedule.
Turn it off: Knowing when it's never appropriate to turn on device, and when it's best to keep it on silent mode.
Understand safety: Including not walking, biking etc. while using a device.
Respect others and their tools: Not draining batteries. Plugging in a device when power is low. Not taking pictures and posting when others don't want you to. Not using a phone during a conversation, at dinner or otherwise.

How to teach it: MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO! Lead by example. Don't pick up the phone yourself, Mom and Dad. Don't bring devices to the table. Put down your tablet to answer questions. And point out bad digital manners (in a quiet way, after the fact). Ask the kids to suggest what they could have done differently.

 

Also on CBC