Bringing manners to you…..

Good manners and social skills are not just for special occasions.  They are a way of life!  From first impressions to table manners and beyond, this article will help you to make the basics of politeness simple and enjoyable for you and your child!

Developing social skills truly does start at home.  Young children will use manners with family and friends, at nursery or school, restaurants, parties and whilst out and about.  The three principles of good manners; consideration, honesty and respect – are timeless.  It is important that you lead by example.  Children don’t come into the world knowing to be kind and thoughtful, you have to teach them what is kind and what is rude.  If you expect children to use their manners, be certain you are using yours too!

Like most good parenting techniques, teaching manners requires repetition and reinforcement. So start young and teach them healthy behaviours with these tips from Schoolhouse Daycare Ltd:

Introduce magical words everyday: Saying “Hello” “Please” “Thank you” “May I?”  “Excuse me” “Pardon me”  “I’m sorry” “No Thank you” “You’re welcome” “Goodbye” are the most important words to be used and will go a long way in aiding your child towards success now and as an adult.  These words can be used around baby from day one, a gentle prompt to at least say ‘taa’ when they are handed their bottle or toy will help mould them into the individuals they will become.

Practice appropriate mealtime manners: You can introduce a basic level of table manners from a young age- for example, you can teach your child not to get down from the table with their mouth full.  When a little older you can start fine-tuning table manners such as children should be encouraged to come to the table with clean hands and faces, only to start eating when everyone else does, eating with their mouth closed and thanking the person who prepared their meal.  Mealtimes are a shared, social occasion and the ideal time to start to teach your children manners.  Even young children should be expected to say “Please” and “Thank you”. 

Join in with life skills such as learning to help around the house: Tidying toys away, making their bed, laying the table, putting their clothes in the wash basket can help children to respect their belongings as well as yours.  Young children can learn how to do simple daily self-help activities- they just need to be taught what to do.  Simply making tasks fun and getting children to join in lays down a good foundation for later life.  All children like to feel independent, but sometimes they need your encouragement to feel that they are capable and that adults believe that they ‘can do it’.  Make these tasks into a game, ‘Who can tidy up the fastest’, ‘who can find the yellow bricks’.  Involve your child and offer praise when they help.

Show consideration and be kind to brothers and sisters:  Sure it doesn’t always work.  Children do fight and argue and don’t always have respect for one another.  But on the whole true sibling relationships have a varied lot of ingredients and it is key that as parents you promote how to be civil to one another.  Children can learn to sort things out for themselves, but encourage them to think about the way in which they talk to you, each other and their friends.  Then think about the way in which you speak to others.  Is it with the same consideration and tone?

Learn to share and take turns: No one likes to lose or be last- especially not very young children.  Children need clear lessons in sharing and taking turns.  Simple games where two or more can play help to teach them give and take.  But don’t just leave them to it.  Sit down with them, show them how the game works.  Tell them what the rules are.  Share with your children so they know the importance of sharing with others.  Compliment them when you see them sharing with others.

Discover diversity: Explain why people dress and speak differently, why our friends come in all sizes, shapes and colour.  It is important to teach children not to comment on other people’s physical characteristics, unless of course it is to compliment them, which is always welcome.

Use manners when out and about: It is important that if your child has spent time at their friend’s house, or been to a party, they are encouraged to say “Thank you” to the child’s parents for having them and for the good time that they had.  When out shopping or at a restaurant stay connected with younger children by keeping them physically close to you and maintain frequent verbal and eye contact.  Help older children feel part of the action so that they are less likely to get bored.

Offer encouragement: Give children positive reinforcement.  When they use their manners acknowledge it.  “That was lovely manners, well done”.

Most importantly, be patient.  Children won’t be full of graces and become amazingly well-mannered little people overnight.  As with everything when it comes to children learning new things, learning basic manners takes time!


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