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Teaching Your Children Manners at a Young Age

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/23/2007 | Parenting
In this day and age, you just can't leave your children to develop acceptable habits, behaviors, and manners by watching their television shows and cartoons. It is the responsibility of parents to take an active stance in the social education of their little ones, which often becomes some of the most important life lessons learned.

The Benefits of Teaching Manners at a Young Age

There are many reasons why a child will benefit from learning manners at a young age. Teaching good habits grooms children into individuals that will better interact with their peers, as well as those they come in contact with. Good manners help to shape and form their attitude and various skills that will essentially follow them throughout the rest of their lives. When parents skip this part of their learning, a spoiled, unruly child may develop. When it comes to teaching children good manners, it is never too early to begin.

You will find that the more manners a child possesses, the more the relationship between mother, father, brother, and sister is strengthened. Siblings face an increased chance of getting along and enjoying playing with one another the more polite they are. Instead of bickering over toys, they may exercise the art of sharing. A disobedient or rude child is one that often receives a scolding from parents, as this type of unwanted attention is needed to teach right from wrong. Overall, manners place children on a level where they will earn the respect of their family members, which will carry on in other arenas of society.

For example, when a child enters daycare or kindergarten, interactions between teachers and peers are analyzed as a testament of their growth and progress. Showcasing proper manners allows them to better communicate with their surroundings and encounters, as well as reap the benefits of forming positive relationships. In the long run, a child with manners becomes a likable member of a community, making it easier to relate and correspond with others. When he or she ages, it will also become an important step in receiving respect in all circles of life, such as entering college or landing their first job. Manners often suggest that an individual is easy to work with or teach.

Not only do children feel good when they display good manners and receive praise from their parents, but adults also benefit from seeing their young ones catch on to the value of being polite. This is especially felt when a child says "thank you" for cutting the crust from his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It is a known fact that parents enjoy receiving praise from their children.

Also, bad habits can be curbed when manners are instilled at an early age. It sometimes makes the world of difference between a child demanding the attention of their parents and the child who may better express their needs through polite words. There is a distinct difference between politely asking for something and demanding. The way a child acts towards their parents directly affects the response they receive. Good manners often elicit a better understanding between parents and children. Usually, temper tantrums are kept at a minimal and young children are able to exercise patience, restraint, and a better outlook regarding a wide range of situations they may encounter.

Start With Basic Manners

When teaching a young child their first manners, it is important to exercise control and understanding. There is bound to be a learning period that takes adjustment, especially in younger children. There will be slip-ups and times where they completely forget their manners and give into their youthful frustrations, but patience will help a parent persevere. As you introduce manners to your child, it is also important to serve as a proper role model and avoid sending conflicting messages. This means when you want your husband to take the garbage out, the word "please" should appear in your request.

There are five main phrases that set a child on the right track to understanding the value and use of manners. Children usually start by exploring the meaning of "please" and "thank you." Additionally, parents should incorporate "you're welcome," "excuse me," and "I'm sorry." When it comes to the five phrases, "excuse me," is probably one of the hardest to grasp, as a child forgets that interrupting a phone conversation is rude or cutting in front of their sister without acknowledging her presence is frowned upon.

Forgetting their manners and reluctantly uttering the "magic words" is to be expected from younger children. Sometimes they need reminding and during those moments, a parent may say, "What do you say to your brother?" or pause until they get the hint that they are forgetting to say something quite important.