Have you been annoyed when your child's friends banged loudly on your door instead of knocking lightly? Or been embarrassed because your little one did not thank the host, when you went to a friend's place for dinner?
Inculcating good manners is an important component of raising children. It is part of teaching your child about respect — for himself and others. But lessons in manners need to be repeated and reinforced well before they can take root. Manners also need to be taught by the right age. You can’t expect a child of two or three to always remember to say 'please' or 'thank you' or use polite words. But you would certainly expect an older child to know basic manners.
Here are nine manners every child should know by age nine
- Say Please (Using courteous words): Teach your child to be courteous and use polite words from a young age with her peers and elders. By age nine, your child should remember to say ‘please’, 'thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘excuse me’ as the occasion demands. When an older child fails to use polite words at the right time, especially in adult company, it can appear disrespectful and ungracious. Provide her with opportunities to learn these words in the home environment. Children learn the quickest when they watch and observe their parents or caretakers do something repeatedly. Learning to use the right words appropriately by age nine can reinforce the habit in children. Similarly, those who do not have the habit of using polite words, will not be able to do it naturally, even in adulthood. As a parent, you certainly wouldn’t want your child to be in such a situation!
- Knock-Knock (Knocking on doors): A child, by age nine, should learn to ask for permission and knock on doors before entering. It can be embarrassing if your child barges into a family member's room without warning. Teach your little tyke to be even more careful when guests are around; tell him that it is rude to enter a guest's room without announcing his entry or asking permission to go in. If parents knock on their child’s room before entering, he will automatically learn to do it himself. This lesson will come in handy when you are visiting extended family or going to a friend’s house.
- No Interruptions (Not interrupting conversations): A common and quite rude behavioural trait in an individual is interrupting others when they are still talking. Children may often interrupt conversations without realising it is impolite to do so. For instance, your little one may often interrupt you and your spouse when you are talking to each other, or to someone else. Correct them politely but firmly, at that moment. If this habit is not checked in childhood, children may continue to do so as adults. Don’t we all know someone who never lets you complete a sentence without cutting in? Make sure your child does not do the same thing.
- How Are We Today? (Asking after people): It can be a polite and sweet gesture if your child asks a neighbour or an elderly person, about their well-being. The simple gesture of asking how a person is doing, can put the spotlight on your child’s model behaviour (and the parents, of course). Children with this trait will always be in good standing with their peers, relatives and neighbours. When they grow up, this good habit will make them well-liked by colleagues or employees. After all, it literally takes nothing to ask someone about their day or health, but this can leave a positive impression about the child.
- Be Positive (Refraining from negative comments): Inculcate the habit of appreciating other people's efforts and making positive comments about peers, in your children. As a parent, lead by example. Refrain from gossiping or making frivolous remarks about other people. Do not encourage negative comments, as this will then become a habit. If children are not corrected early, this can start with a slew of negative comments every now and then with friends. It can take the shape of nasty gossip, once your little one grows up. Even a child as young as nine must know that making unpleasant remarks about an individual is not the right thing to do.
- No Bad Words (Not using foul language): Coming face-to-face with a child who has a foul mouth can be a very unpleasant experience. Some parents tend to ignore their child's foul-mouthed behaviour, thinking she will improve as she grows older. That may not be a good idea. Instilling a sense of pride and dignity in the way she chooses her words, is a great way of keeping your child from using foul language. Your little one may pick up inappropriate words from her schoolmates or other peers, and use them in conversation. Explain to her why she should not do so.
- The No-Fun Zone (Not making fun of others): Children need to know that making fun of someone’s clothes, way of speaking or just about anything, is not a good thing to do. It is also important to teach children to apologise immediately, if they make fun of someone unknowingly.
- Cover Up (Covering the mouth during a sneeze or a cough): This is basic etiquette that every child should know early, not just for good manners but also, to maintain hygiene. It is important to teach children to use a tissue or handkerchief, if sick. In the case of a random cough or a sneeze, they should know that they need to cover their mouth immediately. Teach them not to pick their nose as well. Tell them it is bad manners to cough or sneeze without covering the mouth, especially in the company of outsiders, and if it happens accidentally, to apologise politely.
- How May I Help You? (Offering help): Help your children become the ‘good kids’ on the block by teaching them to offer aid to a neighbour unloading groceries from a car or something similar. Kids who know how to offer to help, will also help you with the chores around the house. It will instil a sense of responsibility in children.
Good manners are important for a child's overall development. These are essential tools to teach social skills, boost self-esteem and, will also help your child become more successful in life.
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