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Mind your manners

The sooner you start teaching your children good manners, the sooner they’re likely to catch on and mind them even when you’re not around. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to teach your son or daughter proper etiquette.

Child with bad eating manners

Your children will learn how to mind their manners from you, their parent; and you should use every opportunity you can to teach them how to be polite and conduct themselves properly. The more they witness and practise good manners, the more it’ll just become a way of life for them. Here are some key things to remember.

You are the role model for manners

Your child absorbs and witnesses how you behave. So, you can hardly expect him to learn good manners if you’re lacking in that department. If you don’t already, start saying hello and thank you to the grocery store cashier. Hold the door for the person coming in through the door behind you; and, even if you’re harried and don’t have time, be polite but firm with the solicitor at your door when you turn down the sales offer. In fact, by practising this in front of your child, you’re getting a bit of a brush-up on your manners, too, which — let’s face it — we all can let slide now and again.

Teach manners according to age and skill level

You can’t expect the same level of good manners in your two-year-old as you would in your six-year-old. At two, your lessons in etiquette will have to be quite simple, such as teaching her to say please and thank you; however, your older child has a greater vocabulary and more ability to control his behaviour and actions. He can be taught how to shake hands hello, for example. He should understand that there are times out in public when an inside voice is appropriate and that he needs to tidy up his room after playing.

Acknowledge good manners

Reinforce good behaviour by complimenting your child when she has shown good manners. When she has shared toys and played nicely, let her know how proud you are with how she behaved on her play date. And, of course, acknowledge poor behaviour as well, so that your child has an understanding of what is acceptable and what is not. Don’t wait to speak to him about misbehaving — it’s best if you reprimand him right away, so that he can connect the particular behaviour with the scolding and behave differently going forward.

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