Manners for Kids: An Easy Guide to Teaching Your Kids Good Manners

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Whether you are a self proclaimed helicopter mom or are more of a minimalist parenting believer, this article will certainly apply to you. When it comes to raising children, one of the most important things that many parents are concerned about is raising their children so that they have appropriate manners. If you have no clue where to start when it comes to teaching manners, we have got you covered. Here are some of the best ways to approach teaching manners for kids. From tips and tricks to scientifically proven methods, we have everything you need to know when it comes to teaching your little one appropriate manners to navigate through the world with.

1. It Is Never Too Early to Start

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One of the most common misconceptions is that you have to wait if you want to teach your little one manners. The opposite is actually true. The sooner you start teaching your little one manners, the better. Kids are all about learning behaviors through practice and repetition. The sooner you give them that opportunity, the better. 

You can start teaching and practicing manners for children even before they learn to speak. For example, you can start using pleasantries such as “please” and “thank you” as soon as your little one starts understanding the concept of giving and taking. Including these phrases into your own vocabulary will eventually lead to your little one including them in their own vocabulary as well.

2. Start with Picture Books

One of the best ways to teach younger children manners is with the aid of picture books. Kids books like picture books not only give a great visual representation about how to teach manners, but it is a fun way to teach your child what proper manners for kids look like. One of the hardest concepts for toddlers to grasp is sharing. In fact, selfishness is a trait that they have to get through first before they can learn to share. One of the best ways to introduce them to sharing is throughout the popular children's picture book, How to Teach Your Dragon to Share. Read this picture book with your child and they will be well on their way to being a child with wonderful and pleasant manners. 

3. Demonstrate Polite Manners for Kids

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When your child starts being able to communicate, you will want to begin formally demonstrating what good manners look like. For example, when you hand your child a treat, a toy, or really anything, do not let them go without reminding them to say “thank you” first. When you remind them to use these pleasantries, you will be engraining them with these manners that will stay with them forever. Not only that, but you will be reminding them what good manners look and sound like. 

4. Be Patient

This next tip is one of the most important things you need to keep in mind when you are teaching manners for kids. This tip revolves around the concept of patience. The fact is that patients will go a long way. Teaching a child anything, let alone manners can be something that is very difficult and taxing. When you are trying to teach your children manners you will need to remember that keeping your cool is the best thing you can do when your child is not following along.

Often times, children need extra time to understand a concept. A new concept like manners for kids is something that can be very difficult and taxing on both you and your child. Just remember, when you keep calm, your child is more likely to grasp the concepts that you are trying to work on. Not only that, but they will be more receptive and open to what it is that you are trying to teach them. This will make your job of teaching them manners super bearable and maybe even fun.

5. Use Every Opportunity You Get

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You do not have to put aside a certain time and place when it comes to teaching manners for kids. For starters, young kids are not likely to stay put when you are trying to set them down. Instead, one of the best ways to teach manners for kids is through authentic experiences. Essentially, this means that when the opportunity arises, you take advantage of it.

Take, for example, going out with your family. If you are out with your family, then this is the perfect time to teach your child about proper manners. Begin with simple things like reminding your child how to properly sit when you are in public. Other concepts that you may want to bring up with your child include using a proper indoor voice. When your waitress comes around, you may even want to allow your child to practice talking with adults who they make come in contact with. (This will be especially helpful when it comes time for your child to go to school.)

Authentic learning such as this not only is a real life application of teaching manners for kids, but your child will not know that they are getting a life lesson at all. In fact, your child will more than likely feel that they are just experiencing another day out with mom or dad.

6. Use Positive Behavior Techniques

The science is undeniable. One of the best ways to teach anything in life is through a positive behavior reward system. Using a positive behavior rewards system is incredibly effective. Especially when you are dealing with younger children. Essentially, using a positive behavior technique means that when your child displays a desirable behavior, you reward them accordingly. Not only that but with positive behavior, you avoid focusing on the negative and instead, you focus on highlight the positive. 

When you are working on manners for kids, consider this. Each time your child shows a positive behavior like saying “please” or “excuse me” reward your child accordingly. This will encourage them to use more of this behavior because they will realize that it is desired.

7. Reward Using Praising as Opposed to Material Objects an Treats

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If you want to teach your child proper manners that stick and are authentic then consider how you reward them. Studies show that one of the best ways to reward children is through positive affirmation. Avoid using superficial rewards such as treats, gifts, and toys. This will only encourage your child that they are working for material objects. Instead, opt for positive reaffirmations. Not only are positive reaffirmations better in general, but they will certainly pay off in the long run. You will be teaching your child that doing a good thing doesn't always warrant a tangible reward. Instead, doing a good thing is rewarded by that fact and knowledge that you are making the world a better place.

Some positive affrimations you can use when you are teaching manners for kids include: 

  • Thank you for listening so well
  • You did a great job following instructions
  • Thank you for using your indoor voice
  • What a wonderful job saying please and thank you
  • You made me very happy when you asked me if I was okay after I hurt myself
  • Thank you for being so kind
  • Thank you for using great manners during dinner today

With some children, using a visual aid can be extremely helpful in rewarding your child for their good behavior. Believe it or not, children of all ages really love stickers. Stickers can be an awesome way of keeping up with a visual representation of how you reward your child. Check out this awesome children's task reward visual that will help you and your child see all the awesomeness that your child is doing.

8. Assign Chores

This next tip with helping build manners for kids may sound a little strange. But time again, it is not debated that studies seem to back it up. According to science, when you assign chores to children, You take part in molding and strengthening the part of their character that is important for establishing good manners. When you think about it, this is not all that surprising. When you assign a child chores, you are teaching them responsibility and independence. Not only that, but your child will get a unique sense of pride and respect for what they are doing. These are all traits that are associated with building good manners for kids.

When you do start assigning your children chores, you want to make sure that you are doing so appropriately. Consider the age of your child and couple with it age appropriate chores. The great part is that you can start giving your child chores at an early age. For example, if you have a toddler, you can begin by asking them to help you with things around the house. For example, you can ask them to begin by bringing their dishes to the kitchen. They can even have the responsibility of cleaning up their toys or their toy room.

As they get older, their responsibility and your expectations for them will increase. The older they get, the more responsibility you will want to hand over to them. Just keep in mind that you want to balance this correctly. If you overburden them with chores, then you will be teaching then the opposite of what you intended in the first place. When this happens, you risk undoing any good manners that you may have established in them.

Final Thougts

Practicing with instilling manners for kids is not something that should be understood as an impossible feat. In fact, practicing manners for kids is something that is more than doable. Just keep in mind that consistency and positivity are all traits that are a must when you begin teaching your child manners. Stick to those main traits and everything else will pleasantly fall into place. 

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Nadia El-Yaouti is a mother, English language arts middle school teacher, writer, and photographer. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. When she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family. Although she considers herself a workaholic, Nadia’s greatest pride is being a mom. She hopes that in today’s fast-paced world, her writing will continue to inspire and uplift moms no matter how demanding life may be.

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