If your child demonstrates behavior that is impolite or rude, especially in public, you need to address it as early as possible so those behaviors do not become habitual. To help children, especially younger ones grasp the concept of politeness, engage your child in age-appropriate activities and games that will teach and reinforce the importance of being polite.
Books on Politeness
Read books with your child that illustrate politeness and good manners. "My Manners Matter: A First Look at Being Polite," by Pat Thomas, for kids ages 4 and older teaches that good manners and being polite are how we show kindness and respect. "Be Polite and Kind," by Cheri J. Meiners, further reinforces the importance of being polite and the affect it has on how others treat you. For older kids, ages 8 and older, "Dude, That's Rude!" by Pamela Espeland shows kids contemporary examples of rudeness in school and at home, and how to be polite in those circumstances.
Practice scenarios of politeness with your child. You and your partner should do it together so she understands that both of you expect politeness and good manners. For young children, start with simple, common acts of politeness such as when to say "please" and "thank you." You and your partner could role-play sharing toys, passing food at the table, and asking to be excused. After demonstrating, invite your child in on the role-playing and see whether she can demonstrate politeness as well. Do several other role-playing scenarios and see whether she knows the difference between politeness and rudeness such as cutting a line, chewing with her mouth open and holding the door open for someone whose hands are full.
Throw a Good Manners Party
Teach polite table manners with a classic tea party for your child and her friends. Have them get all dressed up and issue rewards for acts of politeness. For boys, call it a "gentleman's party," You can skip the fancy tea and crumpets, and instead serve kid-friendly favorites such as chicken nuggets and french fries. Go over basic etiquette before the meal and emphasize that the treat bags for after the meal will only get fuller if the kids show politeness throughout the meal.
Use classic children's games to emphasize politeness and good manners. "Mother May I?" is a fine example. Children stand in a row and must ask the caller a few yards away whether they can take a certain number of steps. If they forget to say, "Mother May I?" they must return to the start. Have the game include saying "please," "thank you," and "your welcome." For another version of tag, play "polite tag." For this game, if the person who is "it" tags someone, they must yell out a politeness rule such as "don't talk over someone!" "no sticking your tongue out!" or "ask before taking something!" If the tagged person can't think of a rule, that person must remain frozen until the round is over.
- My Manners Matter: A First Look at Being Polite; Pat Thomas
- Be Polite and Kind; Cheri J. Meiners
- Dude, That's Rude!; Pamela Espeland
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