You’ve probably looked at polite children - the kind who say please and thank you, lend a helping hand to their friends, often smile - and wished if your own children were such angels! If raising courteous children seems to be a tough challenge, following these tips and see how your children too can grow up to be courteous:
1) Start early: Children between ages 2 and 5 can be best molded to incorporate good manners. They mimic what they see and are quite amenable to doing what their parents request. You can teach them some basic social graces at this age, help them to enact the same as often as possible and make it a natural part of their character. It is a good idea for you to be the perfect role model for your children in this regard, someone who they would wish to emulate and follow.
2) Teach them the Magic Words: Basic etiquette includes using words such as ‘Please’, ‘Thank You, ‘Good Morning’, ‘Good Afternoon’, and ‘Goodbye’ which are the fundamental building blocks for good social behavior. Make them use such words repeatedly whenever the occasion arises so that it becomes a part of their habit.
3) Teach them about Respect: Emphasize the need to respect others, tell them that they should always treat others the way they themselves would want to be treated. Teach them the importance of interacting patiently and politely with others.
4) Table Manners: When children are old enough to sit with you at the dining table, teach them some basic table manners like not talking when the mouth is full, chewing with the mouth closed, saying thank you when they have been served, saying please when they want something passed etc. Also make them understand how they should ask to be excused, how to hold forks and that no one should start eating until everyone has been served.
5) Telephone Etiquette: When children are old enough to play with toy telephones, you can come up with some creative games to show how to answer phone calls with a polite “Hello’ or phrases such as “May I take a message?” and “Hold on for a moment please”. You can also use this period to lay down the rules when to answer and make phone calls.
6) Correct Impoliteness immediately: When children have behaved impolitely, you should correct them by being brief, specific and private, taking care not to humiliate them in front of others. If your child has started his dinner without everybody being seated, you can tell him later - “It was impolite of you to start dinner without everybody being seated. Being polite means respecting older people.”
7) Reward them: When the time comes, don’t forget to commend them for their good deeds. If your child has behaved well at an adult dinner party, try giving him/her a thank you note or a fun lunch later on. If he/she has been polite to his/her grandparents, mention that grandma liked the way the child behaved with her. In brief, make the child feel good about his/her good deeds.
Point out to your children the value of good manners, how it will help them gain respect, admiration and friends. Making them understand the impact of good behavior on others will help them inculcate it in their daily routine, which in turn would help them grow up into courteous citizens.