So many things that a child does can be written off to childish behavior, but I’m convinced that there are some basic manners and courtesies that we need to instill in our children. Don’t let good manners be a dying art form! Beyond the basic “please” and “thank you” here are a few things you can teach your child.
Getting on an Elevator:
Teach the child to stand away from the door at least 10 feet when waiting. This allows people who are on the elevator the opportunity to get off without getting mauled. This same rule of allowing the “Exiting” person applies to going into/out of rooms or buildings.
Holding a Door Open:
When opening a door to enter a building, glance behind and in front of you. Is another person approaching the door? Instead of letting it slam shut on the person, teach your child the simple courtesy of holding the door until the person has either gone through or had to opportunity to grasp the door with their hand.
Teaching a young child to wait their turn to speak requires practice and patience, but believe me, you’ll lose your patience more if you don’t teach them this habit! Gently tell a child to wait until you acknowledge them before beginning to speak. When I’m on the phone or speaking in person with someone, I’ve taught my children to put their hand on my arm or my hand. I hold their hand to acknowledge that they want my attention, then at a respectful and appropriate break in the conversation, I turn my attention to my child. Once they learn this, if they interrupt, I make them wait two minutes before getting to speak.
Whether it’s someone who comes to your house, someone you planned to meet up with or someone you run into out and about, teach your children to say “Hello” and “Goodbye” to people. This tells the person they are important to you. At our house, we stand at the doorway and wave until our friends are out of our driveway rather than closing the door behind them the second they leave. We also taught our children to say “Hello, my name is _____________” when they meet someone the first time.
Cutting in Line:
They’ll learn this one fast enough once they’re in school and other kids catch them not following the rule, but save them the embarrassment and teach them early on: if there is a line for something (like at a restaurant, water fountain, the library check out, etc) teach the children to discern the end of the line and take their place in it, not to just walk up to the front.
No Double Dipping:
Okay, so you saw the Seinfeld episode about this, but your kids haven’t! With parties and potlucks and such, kids have a wealth of opportunities to put their spoon (licked) or their hand (also licked) back into a community bowl, so in the name of polite manners and for health reasons, teach them the “no double dipping” rule. If they need more salsa, teach them to use the serving spoon, not the spoon that just came out of their mouth.
-posted by Donna Venning, who confesses that she got the idea for this blog after nearly toppling over a kid who rushed onto the elevator as she tried to get off.