Teaching Your Children Good Manners

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Are you constantly asking your kids to chew with their mouth closed, put their napkin on their lap, and keep their elbows off the table? Are “please” and “thank you” part of their daily vocabulary? Do you have to constantly remind your kids to send thank you notes? Many moms struggle with teaching their children good manners without nagging. The following tips come from Caryl Waller Krueger’s book, 1001 More Things to Do with Your Kids, on how to instill good manners in your home:

Be sure to praise your children when you see them using good manners.

Instill the art of writing thank you notes when your kids are very young. Even if they are too young to write, they can draw a picture. Krueger says one mother had the idea to hold on to the gifts her children received until they wrote their thank you notes. They were not allowed to play with their new toys until the notes were completed.

Practice the art of conversation with your children. Let them know it is good manners to take an interest in others by asking polite, not prying, questions. Perhaps think of interesting conversation topics or questions together.

Each week, focus on a different table manner, such as keeping elbows off the table or using the proper utensils. On Monday, explain to your kids what the manner is and why it is important. Then, for the rest of the week, pay attention to how well this manner was used. The following Monday, before beginning a new lesson, discuss how everyone did the week before. You may even want to consider having a point system to keep track of who did the best and reward that child with a small prize. Or, consider having a “final exam” formal dinner one night. Serve a special meal, have everyone dress up and set the table with your good silverware. Then have everyone practice their good table manners and conversation skills.

Teach your children the basics of good behavior in other people’s homes. For example, they should never snoop through their cabinets or drawers, they should wipe their feet before entering the home, they should not invite themselves to stay for dinner and they should help put away the toys they played with.

This article is based on the book, 1001 More Things to Do with Your Kids, by Caryl Waller Krueger.

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