Do your kids show respect to others? Or are their manners so bad they embarrass you? Let's find out how to teach kids to be polite from today's expert and my friend, Colleen Holbrook, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Child Mental Health Specialist.
"When I think about helping parents raise respectful children I imagine conversations I've had with parents.
Lead by example. Let your children see you talk to people respectfully, especially when you may be annoyed such as when driving or dissatisfied with the food or service with a restaurant staff person. Just remember you are always teaching your children by your example. Here are some manners I consider important:
6 Specific Manners for Teaching Kids Respect and Manners
1. Talk to your children with respect. It's nice for parents to say please, thank you, and excuse me to their kids. It becomes normal and it will be how they talk too.
2. Teach them to open and hold doors for others. This is about being considerate. If your child is first to the door and there are others behind him, teach him to hold it open.
3. Teach them to give their seat up for the elderly or pregnant women at a bus stop or anywhere where there is a bench or seating.
4. Don't allow your kids to push themselves into crowds in public functions. Teach them to wait their turn and to say, "Excuse me," whenever they bump into someone.
6. Teach them to make eye contact, smile, and say, "hello and good bye.” Depending on the child's age and personality it may be a victory just to get the hello out. That's okay. Again, you lead by example and they will be more comfortable when they need to use this.
When you teach your children manners, expect them to use them. Manners don't just happen. They take practice and follow through.
3 Practical Ways for Teaching Kids to Be Respectful and Polite:
1. Make time to discuss the importance of manners. Read bedtime books with themes around taking turns, asking instead of talking, and other important skills little kids need to learn. Make it fun.
2. Ask your children to make up their own examples of when they or someone else used or didn't use their manners. They can draw pictures and make up a story if they like.
3. If kids act disrespectfully, respond instantly. Never allow this bad habit to creep into your relationships with your kids. If someone gets really upset and makes this mistake, there needs to be acknowledgement, an apology, a consequence and forgiveness to move on, but not before the others steps.
Too often parents want to avoid conflict and will "ignore" a disrespectful comment or snip from a child or teen. Let them know in no uncertain terms what is acceptable and what is not. Being rude to a parent is most certainly not.
Sometimes when siblings have ongoing battles that seem to keep repeating themselves, I will have them role-play what happens typically and then do it another way that includes manners. This is especially helpful around asking instead of grabbing.
Some families get so busy that they rarely have time to come together. A weekly family meeting where everyone is expected to attend can remedy the break down in communication that often results when family members get too busy.
Much has been written about family meetings, but to put it simply it's an opportunity to talk about how all family member are doing. It's a time to reinforce the family rules and expectations. I often hear of one sibling getting mad at another for getting into their things. Addressing this at a family meeting would mean the issue could be solved instead of being ignored and doomed to repeat itself thus creating more family conflict.
Family Meetings can be as casual or as formal as the family wants. It's an excellent way to build cohesiveness among the members. ~ Colleen Holbrook, LICSW, CMHS http://www.colleenholbrook.com
What about you? What do you think?
Please comment in the comment link below. When you do, I'll send you a gift with 7 Parenting Tips for Encouraging Respectful Behavior.
With warm wishes,
Jean Tracy, MSS
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