You’ve heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Proper manners work similarly. While they are unspoken, good manners, and their unfortunate counterpart, speak volumes. Luckily, you don’t have to be Emily Post to model and teach age-appropriate manners to your child.
Good manners and polite behavior demonstrates self-respect and respect for others. Good manners can help older children navigate new or sticky social situations with ease. Can you imagine a world without manners? Like you, I’d rather not.
Manners are a skill to be enjoyed, not forced. Be reasonable in your expectations and know that teaching and learning manners is a life-long process. Start early and start often by gently showing and lovingly teaching manners to your child. Soon, they’ll become routine and – like teeth brushing – a regular part of daily life. Here is an idea of how manners might progress with age:
2- to 4-year-olds: They can learn to say, “please” and “thank you” consistently when an item is desired or given to them.
4- to 6-year-olds: They can learn how to use a knife and fork at the table and refrain from talking with food in their mouths; and begin to distinguish between “indoor” and “outdoor” voices.
6- to 9-year-olds: They can say, “excuse me” when appropriate (for example, after passing gas or accidentally bumping into someone in a corridor); hold their tongue from parroting potty or swear words; and write thank-you notes, with guidance from you.
9- to 12-year-olds: They can initiate polite conversation; look adults in the eye when they are speaking to them and being spoken to; offer a firm handshake; and pen thank-you notes with little prompting.
13- to 16-year-olds: They can engage in more advanced polite social conversation; learn to set an informal and formal dinner table; (politely) assist younger siblings with tasks; and write thank-you notes independently.
And parents, as hard as it may be, modeling expected behaviors and good manners is the best way to teach your child good manners. More information can be found at www.theamericanschoolofprotocol.com or www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/discipline-behavior/morals-manners/7-ways-teach-your-child-manners