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When you insist your child use 'please' and 'thank you', you are attempting to instill proper social skills and manners into your child. Manners, though, go beyond being polite in a social situation. Manners consist of thinking of others and putting their needs ahead of your own, for a brief period of time.

When we hold a door open for a lady, we are giving, for a moment of time, her needs more importance. If you can present this idea to your children, in a non-threatening manner, then good manners and politeness will develop naturally. Children by nature are selfish; they have not yet learned to think of the world around them as anything more than their playground.

Very few children though, would not relish the chance to help someone, including a stranger if they thought that their parents would be pleased. This does not mean they should run up to strangers, but should learn to watch for opportunities to help such as hold a door or hand someone a shopping cart.

When children see the people they respect the most perform these small courtesies they tend to emulate them. If you practice what you tell your child, and explain why you do things like open car doors and help with reaching something on the top shelf, they are more likely to copy you, and grow up to be polite, caring adults.

If, when your child helps someone with a chair, you say thank you, you reinforce their behavior and show them it is polite to thank someone for a small kindness. Let them see you write thank-you notes for things other than gifts. Help them to write notes, and don't worry if they are not perfect; the receiver will love the thought that went into a note to say thank you for fun we had when we visited you, or when you came to visit.

Don't get upset if your child slips occasionally, a small, discreet reminder will go further in helping them remember in the future to think of others before themselves. A public humiliation is more likely to cause them to forget about being kind and polite to others, after all, they were humiliated and that was not kind or polite.

Discuss with your children the reasoning behind the things we do, and help them to see helping others will result in more kindness directed at them by the people they help.