Teaching Manners to Young Kids
Parents teach manners in order to help their kids be courteous, respectful and able to interact well with others. Knowing social graces will carry your kids far in life. The best way to teach is to model. Before kids can talk, they are already learning by your actions. The more you set the example of being polite and appreciative, the more likely your children will follow suit.
There are several subheadings of manners, following a developmental progression. There are the polite manners that more effectively get your kids' needs met, such as "please," "thank you" and "excuse me." As soon as your kids are talking, and no doubt asking for things, you can begin teaching them "please" and "thank you." They will learn that they are more likely to get something they want when they use the "magic words." As they develop a bit more impulse control, you can introduce "excuse me" and teach your child that it is better to wait than to interrupt.
Then there are the etiquette manners, involving the dos and don'ts of the social arena. School-age kids are getting ready to be sent into the world. Parents want to help them be successful and more accepted by others. The manners at this stage generally revolve around eating, grooming and other bodily functions, including: elbows off the table, don't pick your nose in public or comb your hair at the table, etc. At this stage of development, kids are ready to start handling more rules and learn greater behavior control. Privacy becomes more of an issue as kids become aware of their bodies, perhaps becoming more modest and desirous of control over their own space.
And don't forget the kindness manners. Starting early in their lives, kids can learn to do nice things for others, such as holding the door open for someone or bringing in the neighbor's newspaper. A sense of empathy gradually develops when children become capable of considering the feelings of others, and compassion grows.
Raising kind, considerate, respectful and socially appropriate kids takes two very important ingredients: modeling the behaviors you want to teach and reinforcing the ones they demonstrate.