An Educator’s Best Trick for Good Manners For Children

Tricks For Teaching Manners

DISCLAIMER: Not everything that works for teachers works for parents, sorry.

baby signing pleaseI recently read a post where a parent of a teen lamented that her children’s friends didn’t say please, thank you, or the like. She was at a loss on how to address it so if you, too, are perplexed, this is how teachers do this every day.

It’s really quite simple. When your child leaves it off, fill it in. For example, “Would you like some juice?”

Child responds, “Yes.”

Simply and gently add, “Yes ma’am.” Or “Yes, please.”

I know this seems obvious but you can extend this to all kinds of ways to teach your child.

When your child gives a one word answer, repeat the answer using a full sentence, “Yes, I would like some juice.” (Bonus: You’re increasing verbal skills, too.)

You are simply modeling. When someone says to you (adult), “Good morning”, look them in the eye and say “Good morning” in return.

Likewise, when someone greets your child, stop your child and help him/her look up and say good morning. You may have to gently move his/her chin and put your face next to him/her. But this is how you teach manners. Like anything else, it’s a process that requires much repetition and patience.

Choices, choices

It’s always helpful for toddlers to have two equally appealing choices. This works in so many situations but particularly, you can offer choices on how to respond politely:

“Would you like some cheese? ‘Yes, please,’ or ‘No, thank you?”
A child can then respond by simply echoing, “No, thank you.”
“Would you like to like to read this book? ‘Yes, ma’am’ or ‘No, ma’am’?”
Again, a child can easily choose exactly what to say as you’ve modeled it.

Be sure to teach your child it’s ok to say, “I’ll pass, thank you.” We offer this choice at times in Kindermusik so that a child can choose how to participate when it feels safe to him/her. But equipping a child with the vocabulary of “I’ll pass” is a great way to teach both self-regulation and manners at the same time.

What to do with whining (that tired, grumpy, nasal voice)

Simple: “I don’t speak whine.” Treat your child’s whine as if it’s another language that you simply cannot understand. (Be practical here, if they are in distress, don’t ignore it.) When they state their needs clearly, be extra animated and responsive to reinforce clear, articulate speech.

Leave a comment as to how you’ve successfully taught manners to your child.