Family

Teach your kids good behaviour

**Simple ways to teach your kids to mind their Ps and Qs

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  1. Start young – Start with the basics and start young. From the moment your child starts speaking, teach them to say “please” before you give them something and prompt them to say “thank you” after you’ve given it to them. Set a good example by using “please” and “thank you” when you ask them to do something.

  2. Getting gifts – As they get older, between the ages of three and six, start teaching them how to react to situations such as receiving a gift they don’t like. Take them through a pretend situation and work out something they can say instead of, “Yuck, I hate that.” Suggest that instead they say, “Thank you, I don’t have one of those,” which will usually cover anything they don’t like.

  3. on the phone – Phone manners are vitally important, especially if you work from home. Having a five-year-old pick up the phone and shout, “What do you want?” isn’t the greatest intro to a business deal. Get a toy phone and act out a few scenarios, teaching them as you go how to react to certain requests such as “Is your mother there?” or “I think I may have the wrong number.”

  4. Interrupting – one of the best manners you can teach a child is not to interrupt. When your child starts talking and you are involved in a conversation, stop, point out that you were busy and ask them to wait. Get back to them quickly to reward them for their silence or they’ll think you’ve forgotten and interrupt again. It’s important they feel valued for their contribution but learn that if they have something to add, they need to wait or signal their intention with a well-timed, “Excuse me, can I interrupt?”

  5. Thank you – To older generations, manners are really important. While your friends might not even notice the absence of a phone call or a note as a thank you for a present, the grandparents will. So make sure you remind your kids to make the call and help them work out what to say, especially when Grandma attempts to ascertain whether they liked their present or not. And if you’re a note or card person, help your kids write them out until they’ve done it so many times, it comes naturally.

  6. Reinforcement – Take the time to notice and reinforce good manners. If your child’s friend is polite, compliment them and remark to your child what lovely manners they have. And if your child remembers to say “thank you” without needing a prod in the back, tell them how proud you are.

  7. Eating out – Restaurants often bring out the worst in a child’s behaviour. It could be the fact that they have a seated audience at their disposal, or it could just be that they’ve never had to sit still for that long before. Prepare your child for eating out by talking it through at your own table. Remind them that waiting staff should be “pleased” and “thanked” even though it appears they are your child’s servant. And make sure your child knows a restaurant is not a playground – explain that running around can cause fatal accidents involving waiters, broken glass and falling over. Encourage them to take a book, a puzzle or a Gameboy if they think they might get bored.

  8. Table time – Table manners can be confusing for the best of us – with all those knives and forks and different dishes – and something of such complexity should probably be left until your children are old enough to eat out at other people’s houses or at restaurants that serve more than one course. But teach them you must if you want to protect your son from accidentally drinking from the finger bowl on his first date.

  9. Smiles – A smile is the best tool in a child’s manners arsenal. Teach your children that if all else fails, they should simply smile. Nobody can resist a smile and children are often especially talented in this department.

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