Rollercoaster

Is your child polite?

Parents are often shocked by apparently rude behaviour and comments from their children. But children are not born knowing how to politely respond to situations and, in their childlike honesty, can say some pretty rude things.

The easiest way to prevent this is through teaching. If your child is not aware that his/her comments or behaviour are inappropriate, it is a sign that you could do a bit more training about manners.

If your child does act rudely or thoughtlessly, it never helps to embarrass him/her in public.

If an impolite comment is made, simply excuse yourself and your child, go to a private place and point out the error. Suggest something nice to say, and return to your guest having allowed your child to save face.

Problems can often arise at birthdays and other occasions when children are being given gifts. Children, especially young children, will not hide the fact that they are disappointed with a present or that they already have the toy they have been given.

To avoid this happening, have a training session before the expected gift-giving and review the possible situations.

Ask your child: what would you say if you get something you already have, like another Monopoly game? What should you say if you get something you don’t like at all? And what should you say if it is something you like? It is amazing what great results you can get with a bit of practice.

Tips for teaching your child good manners

Teach, don’t reprimand: it is easy to think that your child is purposely being badly-behaved, when, in fact, he just needs a lesson or two.

Be specific when you teach your child, and remember that many follow-up lessons will be necessary. So, instead of saying, “Don’t be so rude”, you can say, “It is impolite to belch, but if you do, you should say ’excuse me’.”

Rephrase: when your child states his feelings in a less-than polite way, rephrase what he has said in the way you find acceptable. If he says: “Yuck! I hate this green stuff!”, reply, “What I’d like to hear you say is, ‘I don’t like spinach’.”

Tell him what you do want: when your child is displaying bad manners, avoid nagging him, and teach what you do want instead (”Please talk quietly”, instead of, “Don’t shout in the house” ). This method will keep you more calm and in control and will give your child an instruction to follow.

Accept mistakes: when children are young, they will drop and spill things. It takes time to acquire the motor skills necessary to be neat and tidy. Children will also make social blunders, as it takes maturity to learn how to act in social situations. Accept age-appropriate mistakes for what they are — simple childishness.

Correct privately: as annoying as your child’s lack of manners may be, resist the urge to reprimand him in front of other people. Making a scene as you attempt to teach your child proper manners, is, well, bad manners.

Prepare in advance: Whether you are planning a visit to a friend’s home, a night out at the movies, or dinner at a restaurant, take time before you go to coach your child on the behaviour you expect. Review the ‘rules’ of good manners and you will more likely experience a pleasant time.

Expect good manners: When you know your child has learned the proper way to behave, it is important to expect those good manners. For example, if you’ve reminded your six-year-old to say ’please’ and ’thank you’ since he was two, you should expect him to apply what he has learned.

Be consistent. Require good manners every day. Remind gently. And, over time, you will find your children turning into proper little ladies and gentlemen.

Recommended reading: Perfect Parenting – The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips, by Elizabeth Pantley.

For more information visit www.RollerCoaster.ie, Ireland’s no 1 website for parents.

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