We are regularly complimented on Harrison and Alex’s manners. In both Graham’s family and my family, manners have always been important and we’ve hopefully instilled this into our children. Without prompting, they (usually) say please, thank you and excuse me. When crossing the road, they always say thank you to the crossing man. When getting off the bus they say thankyou to the driver. If they need to get past someone, they say ‘excuse me please’.
Teaching good manners to children is easy. If you start from a young age, it soon becomes natural and a part of everyday life, but here are some tips to start them off:
1) Model the behaviour – all the time
Sounds obvious, but you can’t expect a child to pick up and use manners if the adults around them aren’t using them. Most of us are polite 90% of the time, but admit it, sometimes at home we all drop the odd please and thankyou. We’re all guilty of it occasionally, but it doesn’t set a particularly good example!
2) Give them the vocabulary
From an early age, teach them the words they need. When they go to grab something, tell them to say ‘please’. They may not understand it, but you are adding the word to their vocabulary.
3) Role Play
Harrison and Alex love playing restaurants, shops, hairdressers etc – all perfect opportunities to practise please’s and thank you’s, excuse me’s and waiting your turn.
4) Correct and Remind
If they forget to use manners, remind them! An old favourite when children forget to say please is ‘What’s the magic word?’. Harrison is now at the point where a pause or certain look reminds him.
When they’re using manners, praise them. If we are out and about and a young child is being polite, I always compliment and praise them – they’re more eager to use them if they know they are appreciated, and let’s face it, everyone likes a compliment!
What are your top tips for teaching manners?