So far in our discussion on teaching manners to our children and getting them to use their manners, we have suggested:
- We treat our kids with courtesy and use tact when talking to them. We show them empathy and concern if they are hurt. We use firm but tactful language when correcting.
- We use gentle language and kind actions with our spouse as an example. The way we treat our partner tells the kids a lot about how to handle others both in and out of the family.
- We talk to our kids about the volunteer work that we do. Explain to them the hurt and suffering that another may be going through. Then helping them see how we take action because we feel their pain.
- We choose the manners that are most important to our family and teach them how to express themselves and act in a way that is seen by our family and community as using good manners.
The final three suggestions about teaching manners are all about discipline. When we teach our children, it is not about the negative consequences that come with us. It is only about teaching them, giving them the opportunity to follow the example we set for them. Disciplining is about teaching, guiding and helping them to meet the standards of our family. Here are three suggestions in this regard.
- Help the child connect the behavior and the feelings of others. When emotions are not in the way of learning, we want to help our children see the connection between our words, the tone of voice and attitude, to how others feel. We can do this by explaining how we felt when a particular incident took place. The story we tell might be real or made up. But children, like adults, need stories. Then check in with them to see if they have had an experience like that. Saying to a child, “Now look how you made him feel,” is not the way we get them to learn empathy, especially when in the middle of the heated moment. (more on this later)
- Give your child the words they need to express themselves. When children are young, they have about 3 or 4 words to describe their emotions. Mad, Sad, Happy, Nice. That sums up their vocabulary unless we give them a bigger vocabulary. I have attached a list of emotion words that you can help your child learn by using them yourself with them. Of course, you need to help them understand the meanings of them, but soon they will be expressing themselves with their real feelings and not just getting angry.
- Correct them in a positive manner. Several parenting styles used are universal. Only one of them is useful in building your relationship as a parent with your child and getting them to practice good manners. It is not permissive (I let my kids choose how they respond to others). Nor is it authoritarian (you have to say it this way, or you are grounded! You are embarrassing the whole family), The most confusing to the child is the sliding style (sometimes permissive, at times authoritative, other times positive – just depending on the mood). Then there is positive disciplining. I am sure you know what works the best – long term.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have discussed how to help our children learn and use good manners. If anyone would like more help with parenting questions, please feel free to call or send an email. I look forward to sharing my step by step method for parents to bring out the best in their children and themselves, focusing on the values and virtues that are the most important in their family.
Part One: Teaching manners to children