7 ways to teach your child good manners
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  • 1. How your child behaves is a reflection of the way he or she has been brought up. Parents play the main role in inculcating good manners in children followed by the teachers and others around. Nowadays most parents find it difficult to deal with their kids and are not sure about how to develop good behaviour in them. Here are a few tried and tested ways in which you can make your child behave properly.
  • 2. When you want your child to follow certain manners, be sure to practice this yourself. Children, right from a very early age, show an inclination towards imitating their parents. So if you are well-behaved chances are that your child will be too. Some basic rules to follow would be-  Do not use bad language.  Do not talk foul about others.  Follow good food habits and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Do not give in to mood swings.  Do not shout at your kids or anyone else.  Follow good habits of cleanliness.  Behave properly with elders so that your child can emulate your behaviour.  Exercise regularly so that your child also does so and keeps fit. Studies have shown that physically fit children are happy kids and rarely throw tantrums.  Follow good table manners.  Be tidy and keep your house and surroundings clean.
  • 3.  Sometimes it has been seen that people around the child have a deeper impact on them than their parents. This is especially so in the pre-teen age group. Discuss your child’s behavior with his or her teacher or grandparents, neighbours, etc. Ask your child’s grandparents to talk to him or her about good manners and reprimand mildly when they do not follow. When my daughter visits my sister and her family, she returns home better behaved than before. It is not that my sister teaches her anything different than what I do at home but a different messenger can have a greater impact than the same one who the child has to listen to all the time.
  • 4.  Threatening your child with dire consequences will not instill good manners in him or her. In fact this sends out a wrong message that learning manners can be terrifying. Instead make the process enjoyable with lots of laughs thrown in. Use affirmative language while speaking to them. Replace ‘foolish’ with ‘not clever’ or ‘boring’ with ‘not fun’ and so on. When they demand things in an impolite manner teach them how the same demand can be replaced by a request and can be a lot more effective in getting them what they want. Many kids shout out their wishes in the hope that shouting will be more affirmative. For example when they want a particular object they may say “You have to give me a new video game or I will not study”. Yes, children do use threats and parents have to thank themselves for this because this is what we teach them. “If you don’t study, you will not watch television” or “you will get a new cycle if you behave properly”. This sends out a message that the child needs to behave well only for a short period of time until the wish is fulfilled. Teach them to rephrase their wishes and voice them out like request. The wish for a new video game can be rephrased and said politely as “Please can I have the new video game after my exams are over?” But they should also be taught that they cannot have everything that they ask for even if they request politely. You can explain to them the reason why you think that their wish cannot be adhered to instead of a big ‘No’ which will make them more rebellious.
  • 5.  When your child is whiny or speaks rudely, imitate them with a smile on your face. Even aping their facial expression works here. You will find that instead of being strict and reprimanding them at all times, being silly also works at times. Kids can hear what they sound like and feel silly about their behaviour. Chances are they will stop repeating the tantrum. Just be careful that you do not cross the borderline here. You are still the parent.
  • 6.  Role play situations with your child and make it fun. Pretend that both of you are at a store and show your child when to say ‘Thank you’ or ‘Excuse me’. Also demonstrate how to wait patiently for your turn. You could act out a situation where a visitor comes to your house and is met by your child at the door. Or when you are visiting somebody and the proper things to say. Sometimes children misbehave because they are not sure of the right things to say in a situation. Learning through role play will be fun and more impressionable.
  • 7.  It is a good practice to eat meals together as one unit. This may be possible only for dinner and when your child does not need to be fed. This is the best place to practice the right etiquettes such as how to ask for something that is away from you, how to chew your food properly, how to eat slowly as well as ensure that your child eats a little bit of everything that is laid out on the table. Encourage the child to eat a variety of vegetables in small bites. Also discourage overeating and talking with the mouth full. Although it is recommended that you do not give in to your child’s food tantrums by giving him or her only junk food, don’t be very stern about what he or she eats unless you feel it’s not healthy. If you feel that he or she is rejecting a particular food often, then withdraw the item for a period of time.
  • 8.  We adults tend to impose our ideas on our kids too often. We feel we know best what is right and advice them accordingly. Just like we do not like lectures, our children also get immune to the lecturing after sometime. They stop listening. This is a deplorable situation and should not occur. The best alternative would be to ask for their ideas. When they have behaved improperly, ask them how their behaviour could have been different. When you see another child behaving improperly, ask your child ‘what is wrong in the situation’ and you will be surprised how mature his or her understanding is. Sometimes it is necessary to treat your child like an equal. Get their whole- hearted participation and let them find out how to behave well.
  • 9.  Good manners need to be inculcated and not imposed on children. Following good manners should come naturally and should not seem to be affectations. Behaving well and following good manners yourself will foster these in the children too. Being more of a friend instead of a stern disciplinarian works better in most situations. However, giving in to your child’s tantrums is not a good idea. Be firm without sounding repetitive in your quest to instill good manners. Make learning of good manners fun with role playing and imitation so that the child learns the folly of his or her ways. One last word, do not expect your child to behave like an adult. Kids will be kids and expecting mature behaviour will spoil the fun of growing up.
  • 10.  Good manners need to be inculcated and not imposed on children. Following good manners should come naturally and should not seem to be affectations. Behaving well and following good manners yourself will foster these in the children too. Being more of a friend instead of a stern disciplinarian works better in most situations. However, giving in to your child’s tantrums is not a good idea. Be firm without sounding repetitive in your quest to instill good manners. Make learning of good manners fun with role playing and imitation so that the child learns the folly of his or her ways. One last word, do not expect your child to behave like an adult. Kids will be kids and expecting mature behaviour will spoil the fun of growing up.