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Living With Rules
Good Manners

Raising children with good manners can seem like a huge undertaking, but teaching young children to be polite is easiest when they are between the ages of 3 and 6.  This period is when they are most influenced by their parents and most anxious to please adults.  Well-mannered children become polite and respectful adults.  Teaching good manners helps children learn to act kindly toward others.

Here are some tips from Scholastic Parents’ “Thank Goodness for Manners” for helping children learn and practice good manners.

Set up and follow family rules.

Remember, learning is a step-by-step process. Start small and then expand your rules of polite behavior.

Start with your top priority.

If your most important rule for good manners is having your children say “please” and “thank you,” then act as a role model. For example, say “please” every time you ask them to do something and say “thank you” every time they follow through on what you’ve asked. Remember, young children enjoy repetition and repetition builds habits.

Provide support.

If you want young children to make a habit of writing thank-you notes, start by having them dictate notes to you and then have them sign their names.

Offer reminders.

When approaching a situation in which you have an expectation of proper ways to act, remind children of the rules before you enter a person’s home, a restaurant, a store, a theater, or other public gathering places.

Reinforce good performance.

Many of us tend to point out when something is done incorrectly, yet we accept without comment the times children behave well. Be quick to praise and explain why: “I liked the way you helped your sister. You made her feel so good.”

Make sure that children understand that being polite isn’t about impressing others. It’s about building children’s confidence in different situations and helping them become aware of others’ feelings.

Resources:

  • "Thank Goodness for Manners" from Scholastic Parents provides a quick chart to discover what “good manners” you can expect from toddlers to preschoolers.
  • "Kids and Manners from Family Fun gives an excellent rationale for making politeness an important social skill.
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Updated on 4/5/2013