By Chiomah Momah
It is delightful to meet a young child who is courteous, cultured and with fine manners. It can also be quite embarrassing when the child with poor manners happen to be yours. To ensure that our children learn the right social skills needed for life, some parents send their children to good finishing schools to acquire such skills. Now, while such institutions have a lot to offer, parents can teach their children a lot too! However, what’s important is for you to start early and be consistent, and gradually your child will stand out positively!
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Start With the Basics
First, teach your young child the basics, like how to greet people, when to use their please and thank you, how to answer the phone, how to sit properly and the like. These basics will form the foundation for all the other etiquette skills they will learn over time.
Do As I do
The truth is actions speak louder than words. If you are sloppy, dirty, loud and rude, then your toddler will probably be the same, and get even worse overtime. For example, you shouldn’t fart noisily around your toddler and not expect them to do same. If they see you eat all your meals sitting on the floor in front of the TV then don’t expect more from your kids. It is extremely important that we display the manners that we want our children to adopt.
Some parents think their duties end in providing clothing, food and shelter and pray that the child somehow, finds his way through life. It should not be like that. Children need to be guided and nurtured, not left to grow wildly. Parents need to shape their children’s behaviour starting from an early age and with time the learned behaviour will become second nature.
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It’s often said that you can’t give what you don’t have. If you have poor etiquette skills yourself then you will have to improve them. A good way to improve on your social skills and behaviour is by enrolling yourself in a proper finishing school. If you can’t afford one, then go online and search for videos on social etiquette and graces. Alternatively, if you have friends whose skills are good, super! You can learn for free! Your friend should be flattered and glad to impart knowledge.
It’s also important that your child’s primary care givers display good etiquette or at least the basic. If they don’t, create opportunities for them to learn so they may not rub off poor manners on your child. Remember, children are easily impressionable. Therefore, select carefully when employing a care-giving service.
Their Social Circle
It would do a world of good to know who they interact with outside the home. Who are their friends in school, church, and so on? What values and manners do they uphold? What about their parents and siblings? Young children are quite impressionable; it would be easier than you think to ruin their budding skills if they constantly interact with the wrong set of peers.
Also, hook them up with adults and kids that will foster imbibing the skills you’re trying to instil.
Invest in Quality Education
It’s often said that education is the best legacy. When choosing a school for your child, select one with whose staff are known for their good reputation and values. This is because during school sessions, your child spends quite some time with these people and are some sort of authority figure in your child’s life. In addition, if your child’s school has club activities, it may be a good idea to sign up for an etiquette club.
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Watch the Right Stuff
Our children’s brains are like sponges and they soak up all they see and hear, so it’s important they see and hear the right things. Buy them DVDs like Barney or Pre-School Power, which basically features educative contents emphasising on proper manners.
Be Firm and Consistent
Firmness and consistency is essential when imparting any form of knowledge to children. So, teaching your child etiquette doesn’t make an exception. If you have been ingesting a number of parenting material, you would know by now that consistency is key. As parents, we have to consistently ensure our children behave in the proper way. It is easy to get tired of teaching children the same things over and over, but don’t stop reinforcing them, as your firmness and consistency will yield results you will be proud of.
The fact is that it’s usually easier to turn a blind eye to our children’s bad behaviour than correct them. However, when you correct immediately, your toddler will learn faster and be less likely to repeat the same errors. It’s the same way with etiquette training, when you find your child being rude, sitting improperly, eating with both hands or displaying any other behaviour that’s out of place, make sure you correct immediately so that it’s understood that such behaviour is unacceptable. As always, when correcting our children, it should never be harsh or in anger, rather, it should be instructive, firm and carried out in love.
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Play and Learn
Your children’s play time is also a good opportunity to teach them some social graces and skills. Role play which involves imagination can really help them learn how to behave in real life. You can act dramas with them where real life scenarios are played out. One of my favourite ways of teaching my children is by acting out a market or shop scene where I teach them how to address the customer or shopkeeper.
As with instilling values, display of proper etiquette in children is better achieved when you start early. So, let’s start raising our little princes and princesses in style so that you can truly be proud of them!
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