First of all, I just want to say how truly tired and disgusted I have become with all the rude and disrespectful behavior that surrounds us these days! Really? How can children be expected to be polite if the adults aren’t providing proper role models? I’m telling you that something absolutely has to change!
The change can begin right now with our children. Now I am talking about starting as young as a year old. Yes! As soon as they are starting to walk and a talk is when manners can start to be introduced. Let me just share some example of things that I have done and witnessed throughout my preschool teaching years. At a year, they do begin to ask for things using one word, they can be reminded to add the word please. Of course there is no expectation they will say it right away or even know how to use it right now but it is being said over and over and they will understand eventually. Truly they do! It really starts to kick in as they progress to the ages of two and three. It is building foundation! Just using a gentle “no” when they throw their food on the floor and watching an adult pick it up reinforces the idea of table manners. “It stays on your plate.” Encouraging them to wave hi and good bye when parents leave, again, the beginning of connecting with people. It is all quite simple and should come naturally as we interact with the little ones on a daily basis.
Of course this continues to build and grow as they age and the expectations will increase. By the time a child is three a teacher can ask a child who hurts another to tell the aggressor to check on the child he hurt and ask, “are u ok?” This will eventually lead to knowing how to say I’m sorry. I remember serving snack to my 4 yr olds and would ask them to say yes please or no thank you. I once had a conversation with a mom of a 4 and 7 yr old. She stated that her older child was always throwing garbage on the floor and asked when she should start teaching manners. Without missing a beat I expressed she missed the boat and that should have started years before. I don’t understand why some parents are so intimidated about teaching their kids manners! On a few occasions a child has raised a hand to me or a co worker right in front of a parent and they had no comment. Are you kidding? I would firmly say, “you may not hit me, that is not ok!”
So hopefully you will become more aware of how your child is reacting in social situations and ask your daycare/ preschool if manners are being addressed in their facility. They should be! It’s part of learning self respect as well as respect for others. Let’s remind them of the simple please, thank you, excuse me responses. This will lead to a more respectful adult and a much nicer world to live in!
Finally, I’d like to include a few books you may want to check out:
- Excuse Me , A Little Book of Manners by Karen Katz (this is especially good for toddlers)
- Monster Manners by Bethany Roberts
- Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners by Stan and Jan Berenstain