How do children learn good manners?

Children have different temperaments and personalities that they tend to develop early on in life. A pediatrician once told me that a kid’s temperament usually stays with them throughout their lives and the best we can do as parents is to nurture it and make sure we are here to guide them to do the right things.


Read along as we talk about how we can model behavior and help children develop good manners.


1. Model the correct behavior


As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children not just educational things but how to develop their social skills as well. The best thing that you can do to teach good manners is to model that same behavior in your everyday life. If you have good manners in dealing with other people, your children will see this and they will accept this as the normal way to treat people. 


Children often imitate what they see, and if you are being nice, cordial, and exhibiting good manners, they will more than likely pick this up from you and start modeling this behavior.

2. Teach them right and wrong


I think the biggest misconception with kids is that they will not understand the bigger picture or complex social situations. But you will be extremely surprised with how much kids know and can understand especially when it concerns their immediate surroundings. In retrospect, kids are inquisitive and they want to know the answers to all their questions. 

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Teach them right and wrong


If you start by teaching them what’s right from what’s wrong, they will have a better understanding of how to behave and instill good manners. Remember that this will be an ongoing process as there are different scenarios that your children might encounter every day that they might not know how to react to. 


3. Be consistent


Children start learning from 18 months and even if your baby is not talking yet, it is best to start teaching them good manners. Starting early will provide a sense of consistency throughout their childhood years. 


This goes hand in hand with teaching them the difference between right and wrong. Consistency is key especially if you want them to carry this throughout their adult age. What’s wrong yesterday will always be wrong, this will help them avoid confusion.


If you are not consistent, they will get confused about how to act and they will forget about what’s wrong from what’s right.


4. Trust the process


It might be hard in the beginning especially if you have children who won’t listen to you, but as long as you keep doing the right thing and being consistent with it, you will see the change in their behavior soon enough. Humans are inherently good, and this might be hard to see sometimes but if you let your children discover the goodness in each human being, they will start to see the goodness in their inherent self which you will be personified in a good manner and how they treat other people.

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5. Sign up for an etiquette class


Some children learn better when another person of authority is teaching them. There are etiquette classes available that you can enroll your children into. This will enable them to see from a third party’s perspective and learning is a fun way to enhance your kid’s social skills as well.


A class is a more formal way of learning, but again this might be good for your child to learn what to do in a classroom setting. Different kids learn differently, and this might be the right tool for your child to learn good manners.


6. Screen time – but with a purpose


As much as you want to avoid screen time for kids, it is simply not possible, especially since we have a lot of screens available ranging from cell phones, tablets, iPods, and laptops. If your child loves screen time, why not turn it into an educational and learning tool? You can have your child watch TV shows that are kid-friendly and model good manners. 


avoid screen time for kids


Sesame Street is a great example of a show that is kid-friendly and the characters all exhibit good behavior. Another classic example is Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Whatever the show that you choose, watch it with your little one, and afterward you can ask your kid questions about the show, specifically about good manners.


When you ask questions, you are making sure that your kid understands what he is watching and opens up the dialog. Welcome questions from your kids and answer appropriately depending on the situation. 

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7. Observe how they act in public


Once you have modeled the behavior and taught your children the difference between bad manners and good manners. You can get them out in the real world so that they can practice what they have learned. It can be as simple as going to a store or restaurant and being polite to the employees or servers. 


Give them feedback on how they acted, or give them ideas on how they can approach the situation differently if they were not able to act correctly. If you think how they acted is wrong, you should let them know and offer ideas on how they can have done it differently. Do not be too combative or dismissive because you still want to create a positive learning experience for your child. 


8. Reward good behavior with positive reinforcement


Once your child exhibits good behavior, you can reward this good behavior with positive reinforcement. It doesn’t have to be in the form of material things but positive reinforcement can also be in the form of kind and encouraging words. You can say “Great job” and “I’m proud of you for doing this”. 


Positive reinforcement will encourage your child to remember this behavior for the next time. They will be more eager to do it because they want to hear words of confirmation from you. Every child aims to get their parent’s approval so this will enable them to model good behavior.

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