Someone once asked me why manners mattered in your own home where one should be able to relax and not worry about being on her best behavior. My response was, “If manners do not matter in the home, then they do not matter.” How we live at home is who we really are.
Children have an uncanny ability to find truth. They figure out if parents truly believe what they are teaching or if parents are just teaching them something to “relieve their own guilt.” I wrote a few weeks ago about children becoming what they live.
Teaching polite manners to young children begins by modeling those manners to them. I am still shocked by the number of adults forcing children to say “please” and “thank you” and yet never bothering to use a single “please” when making a request or a “thank you” when their child does something they have asked him to do.
It takes only a minute to say, “Anna, please pick up that book,” instead of “Anna, pick up that book.” Be sure to say “thank you” when she does. When you hand your child an ice cream cone and you pause to look her in the eye, you are giving her a gentle reminder and an opportunity to say “thank you.” If you do not practice this at home, it will NOT happen in public.
Your home can be the place of love and shelter and should be the environment where your child practices the manners that will benefit him the rest of his life.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers