Today’s guest post is from Ava Carroll-Brown, etiquette expert/wedding and event planner and author of Where IS Your Mother?
Ava’s authorial debut Where IS Your Mother? was this summer’s go-to guide on modern day etiquette. Available now on Amazon.com, click here!!
Tips And Advice For Raising A Well Mannered Child
Good manners and proper behavior are not inherited traits – they are lessons that must be taught beginning at a very early age and reinforced on a daily basis.
At mealtime, a child should be taught that this is the time to sit properly, eat what is placed before him and to respect his meal space as well as the meal space of others. Simply: there is NO eating on the run, NO playing at the table with the food or dishes, NO distributive noises or melt downs and NO tossing food items. Mealtime is the time to sit properly in one’s meal space and enjoy the meal that is put before them. If this is not the choice of the child, remove the child from the space. Repetition of this lesson is the key and eventually the child will understand while at the table, he must sit and behave properly or the meal is over.
The three magic words, beginning with toddlers, are very important. When taking an item of any kind from a child, repeat the word, ‘thank you’. Soon the child will learn that when giving a gift, the person taking or receiving the gift should reply with a ‘thank you.’ When a child wants something, repeat the word, ‘please;’ eventually the child will associate the word ‘please’ to getting what they want. And when a child wants your attention, whether you are engaged in conversation or occupied with something else, impress on the child that by saying, ‘excuse me’, you or anyone else will know that they have something to say.
One additional comment in connection with the “ask nicely and you will receive lesson” is that although the child was polite in his request, he can’t always have everything he asks for. Children are very smart and as they get older the ‘may I have a cookie’ will most likely turn into ‘may I have a new toy’ each time you are at the mall. So when a polite and proper request is made and the answer is no, mom can simply add, ‘but thank you for asking so nicely’ and that just may be good enough.
A well-mannered child begins at home and rules for the table and the three magic words are the first lessons that can be taught. Be consistent and when the child responds to the lesson correctly, praise the child and say ‘thank you!’ It’s just like potty training – repeat the lesson and soon the child will learn it.