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Tips to raise children with good manners

Good manners are the product of a positive environment and consistent parenting. If you want your children to exhibit good manners, you must be mindful of how you treat them.

Tip: Set a good example. Children model the behavior that they see around them, particularly those of their parents. You may teach children polite words such as “please” and “thank you,” but they’ll be more likely to use them if they see you doing the same. Exhibit the same good manners that you want your children to emulate, including staying calm when you’re angry or frustrated.

Tip: Praise good behavior. It’s easy to fall into the habit of pointing out mistakes while forgetting to praise small successes. Big accomplishments, such as a great report card or making the basketball team, will get your attention, but your children also need encouragement for their everyday good behavior. Quietly praise your children when they’re polite to an adult or considerate of a friend.

Tip: Encourage empathy. Around 36 months of age, your children will begin to understand that other people have their own feelings. This is empathy—the foundation of good manners. Teach your children to recognize and respect other people’s feelings as they’re learning to share, to ask nicely for the things they want or to apologize when they make a mistake.

Tip: Respect your child’s feelings. As you encourage empathy, you can also teach your children to accept their own feelings. Your children will inevitably feel angry, frustrated or in a bad mood at times. When your young children have a tantrum, acknowledge the feelings and encourage phrases like “I’m angry!” Take your children’s feelings into account when making decisions and they’ll be more likely to do the same for others.

Tip: Consider principles over rules. Too many rules can be difficult for young children to remember, and not understanding them will make it harder for kids to follow them. Resist the urge to say, “Because I said so,” when your children question your rules. Principles are behind your rules, so discuss them with your children.

Tip: Be consistent. Consistency is crucial to successful parenting. Changing your approach to fit the situation, or because of your own mood, will only confuse your child. Be sure that your own behavior sets a good example. As a parent, remember that your actions will speak louder than your words.