There are times when I see how my son is acting, and I cringe. For many parents, watching their children commit crimes against etiquette is painful.
For me, it’s even more painful because I try to instill a sense of decorum in my son. I expect him to write thank you notes. I try to enforce good table manners at home so that he doesn’t embarrass me when we go out. I even coach him, regularly, on polite ways to handle different situations.
Sometimes, it all works out and he’s a little angel, complimented for being so well-behaved. Other times, he comes off as a jerk, and I wonder how I’m managing to raise such an entitled little monster.
But at least I try. And, hopefully, some of the lessons sink in and he’ll grow up to be a respectful, helpful young man. As you try to teach your own child good etiquette, here are some tips to try.
Set the Example
As always, the best way to teach any lesson is to set a good example. When you set the example, it’s much easier to show children how they should behave. Model good behaviors for your children, whether it’s saying “please” and “thank you,” using proper manners at the table, and waiting your turn to speak.
Show that you think before you speak, and that you are willing to put the smart phone away and give your full attention to others when they are speaking. Set a good example of proper etiquette in your home, and show proper behavior in public, and your children will be far more likely to follow your example and practice good etiquette.
Gently Correct Your Child at Home and in Public
There are times when the “gently” gets thrown out the window. However, I am working on not yelling at my son when he chews with his mouth open for the 100th time. After all, we’re at the dinner table. You shouldn’t raise your voice at the dinner table.
Instead, I try to say something like, “Please remember to chew with your lips closed. Let’s be polite.” You can gently correct your child (probably over and over again) when you see a faux pas in progress. It’s harder when you’re in public, but sometimes you just need to grit your teeth and remind your child of proper manners. Actually, reminding in public can be a good way to let others see that at least you’re trying, even if your child isn’t quite there yet.
Finally, be consistent. Be consistent in your own efforts at practicing good etiquette, as well as consistent in reminding your child. This means that you have to keep reviewing your own behavior, as well as tell your child something you’ve mentioned several times in the past. It’s not a lot of fun, and that is why so many people give up.
It can be tedious at first, but if you stick with teaching your child good etiquette, eventually everyone is more polite around your home and in public, and things are much more pleasant.