Kids and Manners: Where do you Stand?

d e v e l o p m e n T(1)Life with four kids can get hectic at times, but there is always one constant that I am a stickler about, and that is manners. Some of the first words I teach the kids are "Please" and "Thank You", and even though my oldest is going into fourth grade we still have to do the reminder "What do you say?" at least once a day.

Some people argue that teaching kids to say please and thank you at a young age doesn't matter because they aren't old enough to actually understand the meaning behind it, but good manners and actual gratefulness overlap, so if you get them started young to recognize kindness and generosity, when they are older it will be easier for them to grasp. Saying “thank you” might just be a learned behavior for now, but when they are old enough they will be able to attach the meaning to the manners.

Some of the other things I am trying to teach them are to not interrupt when someone is talking (REALLY working on that one but love this suggestion here), good table manners, being a good sport, and one of the more difficult ones, electronics etiquette. I like to have them make eye contact when speaking with someone, and am always working on teaching them how to introduce themselves.

Of course sharing is a big one, and being kind to others, on top of the more mundane ones like waiting till everyone is served to eat.

Am I judgmental of kids who don't say please and thank you? No. Are my kids well behaved all the time because I am tough about manners? Absolutely not. But one of the biggest things I like to do as a parent though, is tell other parents when their child is well behaved, or polite, or just did something nice. That is such a great feeling to have someone tell you that your child was well behaved (even if it doesn't happen super often, as can be the case with toddlers, trust me, I know from experience).

I have to admit though, I can be extremely stubborn with my own children when it comes to manners. Even if the polite salesperson smilingly says "Oh it's okay" I will stand there (sometimes even uncomfortably long) until I can get my three year old to politely say thank you. Does it always happen? No. Will I always try? Yes. If you hand my child something rest assured I will do my best to elicit at least a mumbled "Thank You" from them for you in return.

So tell me, where do you stand with manners? Is it something you work on from a young age or do you think people like me are a wet blanket that should just "let kids be kids"?