When it comes to teaching manners, actions do speak louder than words. Regardless of how many times you tell your child to say “Excuse me” when he has gas, if you don’t make a habit of saying it when you are tooting up a storm, he likely won’t either. While the best way to teach your child good manners is to display good manners yourself, there are some activities you can teach your child to reinforce the importance of having good manners.
Reading a book with your child is an activity you can to do to teach and promote good manners. When choosing a book for your child, choose an age-appropriate book that features characters your child likes or admires. For teaching young children manners, Scholastic recommends “Clifford’s Manners” by Norman Bridwell, “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?” by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague, “Monster Manners” by Andrew Glass and “The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners” by Jan and Stan Berenstain. If you have a baby or toddler, you can begin to teach manners by reading picture books like “Manners” by Aliki. If you have older children and pre-teens, you may enjoy flipping through “Emily Post’s The Guide to Good Manners for Kids” by Peggy Post and Cindy Post Senning together to brush-up on acceptable and unacceptable social behaviors for children. After reading together, take time to talk about the book you read and to do a related activity. If you read “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?,” for example, pretend to be dinosaurs having dinner and act out the lessons learned from the book, or draw a picture of a dinosaur showing good manners, like wiping his mouth with a napkin.
Have A Tea Party
Having a tea party allows you to teach your children the proper way to set a table, how to sit properly at a table and about the appropriate social graces that should be used while dining. While younger children can learn manners by attending a tea party that serves imaginary tea and cakes, older children may enjoy and benefit from a tea party that features real beverages and snacks. If you serve real foods, you’ll have the opportunity to teach your children how to pass food around the table properly, how to request something that is across the table and how to signal appropriately that they are finished their food. Once you feel your children have a handle on table etiquette, consider taking them to a formal tea. Many upscale hotels, like the Ritz-Carlton in Boston, Mass., serve an afternoon tea that children can attend. If you live near Union, N.J., you may also wish to attend the OMG! Tea Party, an annual event designed to allow girls ages 5 to 13 the opportunity to experience a real tea.
Role playing is an effective activity that can be used to teach manners. To teach your child manners through role playing, first talk about the standard of conduct you are trying to teach, and then describe a scenario that would require the use of it. For example, if you’re trying to teach your child to say “please,” first talk about why it’s important to say “please” and what type of situations warrant its use. For the scenario, set the stage by saying something like, “Pretend we are leaving the store. You pretend to be the mommy and I’ll pretend to be the lady,” and then start the dialogue. “Let me get the door for you” and act out opening a door. Wait and see how your child responds. If she doesn’t say, “Thank you,” prompt her by saying, “That was nice of the lady to hold the door for you. What could you say so that she knows you appreciate it?” Prompted or not, when she says “Thank you,” be sure to follow with “You are welcome.” When choosing a scenario to role play, be sure it’s age appropriate. When teaching your toddler manners, your role play may be as simple as handing her a toy and prompting her to say “Thank you,” and then following it up with a “You’re welcome.”