As Moms, we teach our kids just about everything. That includes the way to treat others. We try to be a good example to them and to remind them to say “Please” and “Thank You", but how do you teach them to be polite, respectful, and follow the rules without going all “Mommy Dearest” on them?
I’m a big stickler for manners and respect, and I hold pretty high standards for my kids as far as that goes.
If my 3 year old asks me for a snack, she has to ask nicely and include a “please” in there, or no snack. Of course, she’s only 3 so when she wants a snack, she may forget and say “I want yogurt!” When that happens I always say to her “That is not how you ask nicely.” and she replies with “Mommy, can I have some yogurt please?”
She knows not to talk to strangers, but I also want her to be polite. So it’s a tricky line to walk. I have taught her to say “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me”, but she knows to wait for my permission first. When we have paid for our groceries, she always says, “Thank you! See you next time!” to the cashiers. I always make sure to tell her that it’s very nice to say “thank you” to people who help us.
She’s gotten much better about sharing and taking turns (except of course with her little brother!). At the park she shares her buckets and shovels with other kids in the sand box, she waits for her turn on the swing, and she is (mostly) patient when other kids are in her way or skip in line. When we go to our friends’ houses for play dates, I always make sure she says, “Thank you for sharing your toys.” and gives her friends a hug when it’s time to go.
My son is only 16 months, but he’s already learning to say “please” and “thank you”, share, and take turns. It’s not an easy concept to teach, but persistence pays off. They may see it as nagging, but it’s really important to me that my children grow up as respectful and caring people, so it’s worth it!
Teaching my children to have respect and be polite has been my number one priority since they could babble because it’s a tool they will use for the rest of their life and it goes hand in hand with many other things like patience, kindness, and generosity.
Of course, my children are still young and they are FAR from perfect and often forget to say their “please” and “thank you’s” (well, Milo doesn’t say them at all because he’s still pretty little) but that’s where I come in as Mommy. If they forget I ALWAYS remind them. They haven’t been annoyed by this yet, but I’m waiting for the eye roll in the future. There are times I’m really proud of Evie when someone asks her if she’d like something and she says “No, thank you”. It may seem like something very little but it means that my years of badgering her are starting to pay off!
My kids are also very friendly and always have been. They are both always saying hi to everyone and are happy and smiling and I think this is a product of good manners because that goes right along with being friendly, outgoing, and happy! I also think that has a lot to do with me because I am a friendly and outgoing person (not that I’m trying to toot my own horn by any means, my husband I’m SURE can attest to the fact that I am NOT always friendly ...) and when your children watch you acting a certain way, they try to replicate it (which is NOT always a good thing. Sometimes I hear my words come out of Evie’s mouth and I am HORRIFIED).
Teaching manners and respect at a young age is so important to me. Not to say, they can’t learn it later in life or that it’s not important to continue these lessons as they grow, but if you start even before they know what it means, it will help instill the importance of treating people how you’d like to be treated, with respect.
We all hope our kids grow up to be polite and respectful adults, so we work very hard to lay the groundwork for that result. Our kids may only see it as nagging, but some things just are worth nagging for!
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What do you think: Are manners a thing of the past, or are they still an important part of our society? Are you strict with your kids as far as manners and respect? We’d love to hear from you all! Please share with us in the comments below.