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Posted in Family and Friends | September 2014

Be nice this September, please and thank you

teaching good manners
It’s a happy coincidence that National Children’s Good Manners Month falls around the same time the kids are heading back to school after a couple of months of relative freedom. Faced with new rules and responsibilities in a brand new grade, it’s the perfect time to gently remind children about the importance of good conduct, being polite and respectful, and having good manners both in and out of the classroom.

One of the best ways to teach good manners is to be a role model. Kids see and hear everything their parents do and say, so be respectful in your interactions with strangers (for example, make a concerted effort to keep road rage under control), choose your words carefully when you’re frustrated with your spouse, and remember to always say please and thank you. Be a gentle, positive presence in a sometimes rude and difficult world. Your kids will notice.

Babble has some great suggestions for teaching age-appropriate manners to children from infants to teens.

  • Teach your kids how to properly greet someone. Practice with them so they learn the four basic rules: make eye contact, smile, extend a hand for a firm handshake, and say, “Hello, my name is_______”. This is a skill that will serve them well all their lives, including the first day of school when they meet their teacher and new friends for the first time.
  • Thank you! Encourage your kids to write thank-you notes, which are always appreciated by grandparents, aunts and uncles. Small children may only be able to draw a picture and sign their name, but they can dictate the words for you to write. By age six or seven they should be able to write the whole note themselves. Fostering an attitude of gratitude is a wonderful thing to do for your children.
  • Avoiding interruptions. A gentle and respectful way to teach children not to interrupt when they are small is to tell them to quietly place their hand on your forearm when they have something to say, but see that you are speaking with someone else. All you have to do is then place your hand quietly on top of theirs to acknowledge that you know that they want to tell you something. Once you’re finished speaking, you can then address the child.
  • Online manners. Older kids and teens should be reminded that manners count online too. Emails may seem like an informal way to communicate, but kids should follow standard written letter format, especially if they are communicating with an adult or with anyone for the first time. Using “Dear_____” and closing with, “Yours truly” or “Regards” or “Love” (if it’s a family member) is the polite thing to do. Remind kids that what you type and send out into the ether is out there forever, so it should always be kind, respectful and polite. For a list of the core rules of “netiquette” (online etiquette), visit Albion.com .
  • Electronic devices. Set boundaries for device use in your home to ensure that your child understands that smartphones and tablets are not the only way to communicate—and that there are times when those devices should be turned off or silenced. You might decide that phones are always out of reach during dinner time, family movie night or after dinner walks, for example. Stick to the rules and be prepared to take their devices away if the rules are broken.

To make learning manners a little more fun during National Children’s Good Manners Month, particularly for younger kids, you might want to try out some of the simple manners games featured over at ModernMom . They’re designed to teach and reinforce proper behavior while having a little fun.

For a great list of books about manners such as, Time to Say “Please!”, Are you Quite Polite, and Emily’s Everyday Manners, visit Scholastic Books .

To download a printable family pledge poster designed to help you celebrate National Manners month all year long—complete with reminders for both kids and moms and dads—click here .

Thank you for reading this article, and please have a great September!

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