Your child was born with certain innate abilities, but chances are, being polite is not one of them. Not to say that your kid is impolite, but etiquette is something that must be taught. Like any habit, it isn’t going to just happen overnight, but by approaching it with patience, you can teach your child how to have good manners.
Why Manners Are Important
Some people associate the term “manners” with debutante balls and fancy restaurants, but when it comes down to it, manners are about being considerate of others. Manners are less about eating your salad with the right fork than they are being aware that the people around you have feelings that can be affected by your behavior. In essence, having good manners means that you behave in such a way that shows respect.
Teaching Your Child to Be Polite
If you’re not sure where to begin with teaching your child manners, here are some great places to start.
A simple, polite skill your child can master is making a point to greet people. When someone comes over, make sure your child at least waves to greet them. If this doesn’t work as well, it can be helpful to point out a detail about the person; for example, you might point out the person’s eye color so they make eye contact. Over time, you can teach them how to shake hands. You might practice this at home, making a game of greeting each other.
Using Polite Words
You may already be asking your child to use “the magic word,” but beyond “please,” you want to teach your child other polite words. Saying “excuse me” and “thank you” are also age-appropriate words they should be practicing. The best way to accomplish this is by modeling the behavior. Remember that your child wants to be like you, so if you’re using polite language, they will naturally pick up on it.
Staying at the Table During Meals
When you have a preschooler, meal times can feel like a marathon. It might be a lot to expect them to stay seated at the table for half an hour, but ten to fifteen minutes should be manageable. Teach your child that dinner is family time so the expectation is for them to stay seated at the table till everyone is finished eating. You can make this the norm by having a consistent mealtime routine. In addition, avoid feeding them snacks before a meal so that they are hungry for it, make it a rule that food has to be eaten at the table, and have them help set the table. If table manners prove to be challenging, you can set up a sticker chart to give them a reward for good behavior.
You’re on the phone, and you feel someone tugging on your pants. When your child wants your attention, they don’t want to wait for it. But if your child is old enough, they should be able to occupy themselves for a few minutes while you handle something else. Explain that when you’re on the phone, they should not interrupt unless it is an emergency.
At Foundations for Learning, we make a point to reinforce good manners throughout the day to help our students learn to be polite. If you’re looking for a preschool in Glastonbury, contact us today to schedule a tour!