YOUR CHILD Teaching your children manners
When teaching your children good manners, it is important that you model the values you are trying to instil in them
AS a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your children manners from a young age. Although children may pick up certain behaviour outside the home, what they are taught at home, such as good values and principles, will resonate the loudest. Of course teachings may differ from parent to parent, but there is standard behaviour that society regards as manners, which you should instil in your child.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING MANNERS
Johannesburg-based social worker, Nthabiseng Madikgetla, says it is important to teach your child manners that will enable them to accept others and be accepted by others. “Respect is the foundation of every relationship and it is important to teach children respect for themselves and others. You must teach your child that respect is not only applicable to their interaction with adults, but they also need to show the same respect to other children as well,” says Nthabiseng.
Nthabiseng says it's important that you teach your child the following: Saying please and thank you: Teach your child to always say “please” when they are asking for something and to say “thank you” when someone does something for them. Respecting other people's privacy: Teach your child to always knock on closed doors and wait for a response before opening the door. They must also not go through other people’s stuff such as bags and cellphones as this is disrespectful and invades the other person's privacy.
Asking for permission: It is important to teach your child to never take something that does not belong to them without obtaining permission from the owner. Teach them that in instances where they are not sure what to do, it is better to ask and get permission on what to do.
Saying excuse me: Teach your child to say “excuse me” when they need to get through a crowd, bump into someone or want to get someone’s attention. Teach them that it is also good manners to say “excuse me” when they are interrupting a conversation between two or more people and that this should not be done unless something is important. Not using foul language: Teach your child to
never use foul language and demeaning words when talking to others. Being a good host: Teach your child to treat your guests with respect and be a warm and loving host. They must show respect to adult guests and play nicely and share their toys with other children when they visit. Not laughing at other people’s
situations: Teach your child to never make fun of other people regardless of how different they are from them. Your child must know that people with disabilities and those who look different deserve respect and should not be mocked or made fun of.
STRUGGLING TO TEACH MANNERS
Your child may not respond to how you teach them manners. The manner in which you approach this may create a learning challenge for your child. This is because parents teach through communication and it is important to say exactly what you want your child to hear and learn, according to Nthabiseng.
She says the cognitive development of your child contributes to what they are able to understand and learn. Children in different ages behave differently and some of this behaviour is age related.
“You may find that there is very little connection between your child's behaviour and what you are teaching them,” she says.
“Your child may not be learning the manners you are teaching them as they have emotional or psychological issues. Children do not always have the ability to verbalise their feelings and thoughts and as a result act them out. Your child may have difficulty learning manners as a result of mental health issues.”
Some mental health conditions have symptoms such as aggression, impulsivity and lack of social skills. When you look at the behaviour associated with these symptoms, it is easy to conclude that the child has no manners. Children who are commonly misjudged to be lacking manners are later diagnosed with mental illnesses such as Attention Hyperactivity Deficiency Disorder (ADHD), Autism and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).
MODEL THE BEHAVIOUR
Nthabiseng says if you want your child to have good manners, you must make sure you do as you say.
“The first step to having a mannerly child is being a mannerly parent. Never sabotage your children’s speech patterns by using language you don’t want your children to mimic. Communication is the best method of teaching and learning and this also applies to parents teaching their children manners. However, there is proof that little children learn better through observation and they may not always hear what you are saying, but will always see what you are doing,” she says.
Remember that patience is important when you are raising a child. “As they grow older, they may look like they are not learning and keep doing the opposite of what you are trying to teach them. Be patient with your child and never give up. Teaching children good manners is not an event, but a never-ending process,” she says.