I used to struggle with the bad manners vs. good manners idea when my kids were very young. It would seem every time I looked at my darling daughters, there was something that I could correct. Sure, children are not born pre-programmed with manners. Nor does the elusive parenting manual provide us a best way to ensure little Susie has all the necessary manners she needs by the time she trots off to kindergarten..or preschool..or story-time. “I felt like dinner talk was “don’t, don’t, don’t,” said Barb J, a mother of two now well-mannered young adults. “Don’t put your elbows on the table, don’t talk with your mouth full of food, don’t wipe your mouth on your sleeve, don’t play with your food….it just went on and on and I felt like I couldn’t enjoy our meals because I was always on guard to correct the manner faux paus.”
Just as we hope our boss recognizes a job well done through a raise or promotion, or our spouse surprises us with flowers for the crazy amount of volunteer hours spent on the church charity event, our children also appreciate material rewards. Notes of praise, a treasure box of small, “pick one” toys or earned treats such as ice cream for a weeks worth of on-target manners, will go a long way. My kids still have their “certificates” for the ‘Clean Plate Club’ and ‘Remembered to Use Table Manners for 7 Days’ award. We used certificates for the toughest rewards, otherwise, the kids would expect a reward for behaviors that should be usual.
As you can see, helping your kids learn good manners doesn’t have to be tiresome and negative. There are many great books on the market and at your local library. Get creative, lead by example and above all, relax!
How are you doing with teaching your child good manners?
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