I get complimented on my children's manners a lot.
My 12 year old son looks every server at the restaurant, uses the name they gave and asks "May I have a refill please?" and upon receiving it he says "Thank you very much." He greets everyone with manners and is considerate and interested in what anyone is saying (well, except maybe his sisters).
My 14 year old girl knows to hold the door open, especially for women and children and seniors. She also knows if we are in a crowded or busy place with limited seating that she as a young and fit person should offer her seat to any elderly person or parent and child.
My 5 year old leaves a location and knows not to throw a fit or give me a hard time. She likes to ask for things but understands when I say no there is no room for debate. She also knows that in our home she is to pick up after herself. If I make a dinner she doesn't like she thanks me for it but asks if she may skip eating the peas.
No my children are not perfect. Far from it. But when it comes to manners and consideration they do pretty darn well.
It's because being considerate of others has never been an option in our home. It's expected. We've never been negotiable on manners. We've tried to teach our kids that everyone's feelings matter and everyone deserves respect. When they forget that we have explained to them firmly why they need to show better manners or be more considerate and how it effects others.
So if you are working on teaching your child manners here are my top 10 things to focus on.
1. Use good manners. "Please and Thank You" aren't the only words you need for good manners. There is also using Sir or Ma'me to address and adult. Saying "Hello , how are you?" and "Good Bye, have a great day" shows respect and thoughtfulness and saying "Excuse me" if you run into or interrupt someone is always nice. Asking how someone is or how their day is is also a great way to display not only manners but show consideration for others. Also teaching your child to shake hands is polite and often adorable.
2. Don't interrupt adults. This is difficult because children are usually impatient and easily excited so when they have something they want to say they want to say it at that very moment. But teaching them to wait until the adults are done speaking or showing them how to interrupt in a polite way in the case of an urgent issue is very important. "Excuse me mom, but I need to talk to you" goes over much better than repeated tapping or tugging and hearing "Mom, Mommy, Mommaaaaa".
3. Ask for permission. Whether they want to color, get out every lego they own or get a snack asking "May I please" is perfect manners!
4. Be considerate. This may sound easy but kids operate on instinct and don't usually filter. It makes for some very funny stories to share but can also lead to awkward moments. For a child who just ate a mouthful of some unknown veggie their instinct may be to spit it out and say "Yuck!".Seeing someone in a wheelchair may make them want to inquire about the person and point to show who they are referring to. Receiving a gift they already have or don't like may make them want to inform the person who gave them the gift of that fact. Remind your child that consideration and good manners sometimes means not saying exactly what you are thinking if it could hurt some ones feelings.
5. Show Respect. This can be hard for an introverted child but it's good practice to learn to answer someone when they are spoken to. Whether they are being told they look pretty at party or asked how they are doing. A reply shows they are listening and returning the questions or thanking someone is only polite. When someone is speaking to them teach them to sit up straight and to make eye contact. Nodding, smiling, and acting interested even when they are bored shows very good manners and displays respect. Not mumbling or complaining when asked to do something they don't like or being told not to do something also is an important part of showing respect and respecting authority and adults.
6. Respect others space. If a door is shut, knock before opening. If someone is sitting don't crowd them. Explain to your child the importance of respecting the space and boundaries of others and let him know people should respect his space as well.
7. Show gratitude. Whether you received a gift or are leaving a friends home for a playdate or do anything where someone has done something kind, show gratitude and thank the person. Everyone appreciates being thanked for things they have done including children!
8. Be nice. Calling names, teasing, being aggressive or too rowdy or using what we call ugly words can be hurtful. Remind your child to treat everyone the way they would like to be treated.
9. Don't be gross. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash you hands and don't pick your nose! Kids forget these but a great way to show manners and consideration is to not spread germs!
10. Be a good example. Your children learn from you and all you do. Be a good example and encourage your child to be an example to others.