Manners and kindness are big in our house. I like to think that I’m a pretty relaxed and flexible Momma in most areas, but there are no if’s, and’s or but’s when it comes to being kind and using manners.
Having spent a fair amount of time at Sweetly Six’s school this year, I am amazed (aghast is a better description!) by how few children consistently use manners (and it’s not for lack of effort by her wonderful teacher!). I am forever reminding kids to say, “Please” and “Thank You” at school.
Why are they so important to me, you ask? Well, I believe that at the heart of good manners is a respect for oneself and others. Good manners convey a sense of respect for the sensibilities of other people. I believe that the acquisition of basic manners is a two-way street. Children learn manners by consistent example. When taught by respectful role models, children learn to respect others. Manners become automatic and authentic (Silver Lining in my book!).
Teaching your child to think about other people’s feelings will help them to be the first to set the tone in new relationships. I believe that social skills are fundamental imperatives for learning, building relationships, communication and more.
In addition to building respect and shaping character, manners are also an integral part of success. In fact, did you know that new research is showing that social skills have a greater influence on potential success and even income than academic achievement?!? I’m just sayin’…manners are important!
Below are some of our faves:
- Please and Thank You: You will be doing your child a favor if you insist that she say “Please” and “Thank You” until these words become a habit. Before Sweetly Six leaves for school or a play date, I say, “What are you going to use today?” She says, “My manners.” It’s how we roll…
- Greetings: Since Sweetly Six was oh, about 3, we have taught her to greet people by name, with a firm handshake and eye contact. Learning early on to look someone in the eye and say “Hello Mrs. So-And-So”–instead of “Hi” mumbled at the ground-is a valuable lesson for the future.
- Table Manners: Table manners for children are the same as they are for adults. However, if it’s a long meal, it’s ok to excuse little kids (heck, sometimes even I want to be excused!). Sweetly Six is a major fidgeter. She can actually stay at a table for a prolonged period, but has a pickle of a time actually sitting in her chair. Table manners are a work in progress over at our house….
- Privacy: In order to teach your children to respect your privacy, you must respect theirs. Every morning, when Sweetly Six gets up, she closes her door and reads and/or plays for about 30 minutes. She (and we!) value her alone, private time. She is also one who is quick to say, “Momma, I need privacy” when she is in meltdown mode (yes, it does happen every once in a while). She uses private time as an opportunity to reboot and pull herself together.
- Interrupting: Teach your children not to interrupt. Ever.
Manners are the happy way of doing things.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson