Children are born with a number of natural abilities, but behaving politely is not one of them. It’s easy to turn a blind eye and say “kids will be kids” when your peewee runs amok at a restaurant or thinks it’s hilarious to smack another child on the head with a toy hammer at playgroup.
However, bad behaviour can hinder junior’s social development. An ill-mannered child is an instant turn-off to adults — including teachers and school principals, thereby affecting his academic development as well. Plus, a kid who doesn’t know how to share or tries to bully his peers can also become a social outcast.
Behaving with good manners is your child’s key to a good social life, and it’s your duty as a parent to instil this quality in him from an early age. Here are simple ways to set your sweetie on the path to acting friendly and courteously in all social situations.
MAKE IT A HABIT Good behaviour shouldn’t be something “put on” only for a fancy gathering or “important” people. Your little one should show manners automatically, whether he’s at home or in public. So don’t let his manners slide when you are having just a family dinner together at home. Make sure he remembers to say “please” and “thank you”, just like you would once you start bringing him out dining with a bigger group — which is a chance to experience more together!
BE CONSISTENT If the hubs allows junior to scream at the top of his lungs (“He’s only expressing himself!”) but you immediately reprimand him, then your kiddo won’t know which behaviour is acceptable. Mastering good manners takes a lot of practice and reinforcement, so make sure you are on the same page with your husband (and whoever else takes care of your child, such as your helper or a grandparent).
SET YOUR CHILD UP FOR SUCCESS. Well-rested kids who are not loaded-up on junk food and sugar tend to behave better. So plan your social gatherings around naps and meals. If it’s not possible and junior is slowly turning into a gremlin with every waking minute, then keep a closer eye on him and step in quickly if things go awry. Avoid being too harsh on him just to make a point in public as this could hurt his self-confidence. Instead prompt him when he forgets his manners. For example, gently ask him to give back the toy he rudely snatched from another kid or to thank aunty for the cookie.
BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL You are your child’s best teacher and he will constantly look to you for guidance, so your behaviour counts too. This doesn’t mean you should only be on your best behaviour when junior is around. You should also emulate the kind of behaviour you would expect from your child. If someone usurps the parking spot you’ve patiently been waiting for, firmly and politely let them know it wasn’t the right thing to do, instead of yelling or calling them names.