Have you ever been mortified by your child picking her nose or wiping her mouth on her sleeve in public? Have you wished you could disappear through the floor when your child gets down from the meal granny has prepared without saying thank you?
Good manners aren’t a thing of the past and there’s a lot we can do to instil them in our children.
Of course manners are very much rooted in culture (and to some extent in class) but within our own society we can be fairly sure what’s expected.
Manners are generally small every day examples of consideration and respect for others. We don’t eat with our mouths open because it isn’t pleasant to look at food being masticated in someone else’s mouth. We offer seats to people on buses when they need to sit more than we do (tricky to judge sometimes).
Here are SIX examples of manners that remain constant and cross social strata
1. Always say please and thank you
2. Wait your turn, be it in a queue (a British strength) or before you speak or take something offered.
3. Share what you have
4. Make eye contact when speaking to someone (something many young children find difficult)
5. Respond when spoken to
6. Speak politely, using appropriate rather than offensive language. And strike up conversation rather than sitting in silence
To me, it seems these small acts of thoughtfulness matter more than having good table manners, although many parents get particularly exercised about mealtimes.
This is fine – what matters to you and your family may be different from the next person.
The main thing is to teach our children good habits for life. Your kids might not see why you care so much about such trivialities but a crucial part of parenting is passing on to them the values that are important to you.
This is one of the 7 essential skills that all parents need which is detailed in my book Real Parenting for Real Kids.
To teach good manners or other life habits or values we need 4 things:
– To be clear about what behaviour we want and why we want it
– To be modelling that behaviour ourselves (harder if your husband slurps his tea)
– To require it of them
– To notice and descriptively praise when children show the behaviour we want to see
– Real Parenting for Real Kids will be published on 27th April 2016 but is available to order now at the special pre-publication price of £13.99. Click here to get your copy.