In today’s fast-paced and impersonal world, manners seem to be a lost art. With that said, is it worth it to take the time to teach your child good manners? Do good manners really matter any more? In one word, yes!
Manners are more than rules or skills, such as knowing which fork to use or how to carry on a polite conversation. They are more than a behavior, like remembering to say “please” or “thank you.” Manners reflect our attitude. They display to others our thoughts and opinions. Manners show what is inside of us and reveal our true hearts and character.
In addition to offering a means of expression, practicing good manners can be beneficial for our children in other ways as well, including affording them the opportunity to make a positive impression, aiding them in the development of relationships and helping them to build self-confidence.
Here are 3 ways to encourage your child to practice good manners:
Explain the Behavior You are Trying to Instill.
Children are more likely to practice the “what’s” of manners when they understand the “why’s.” First and foremost, manners are a way of honoring God and acting in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Consider the following Bible passages:
- Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)
- Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
- Be kind to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
Help your children understand that practicing good manners offers a way to show others gratitude and respect. For example, when your child understands that interrupting an adult who is speaking is disrespectful, he might be more inclined to wait his turn before speaking. Or, he may be more inclined to write a thank you note to someone who has given him a gift when he comprehends that the note is an expression of his thanks for the giver’s thoughtfulness.
The root of good manners is respect for others. Respect is a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important and should be treated in an appropriate way (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Foster an enviroment of respect within your household and teach your children to be respectful. But remember, to get respect, you must give respect.
Don’t Just Teach, Demonstrate.
The most effective way to get your child to behave in a certain manner is to model that behavior. As you teach your child the skills and behaviors associated with good manners, reinforce what you are teaching by practicing those good manners yourself.
A willingness to practice good manners begins with the right attitude. The right attitude provides the foundation and motivation necessary for children to want to practice the behaviors and skills that demonstrate their respect and gratitude for others and their love of God.