Sometimes parents think of a child’s manners in the most basic of terms, like table etiquette or how polite they are when guests come to the house. But the benefits don’t end there. Manners actually equip your children for success in their adult life.
To that end, a few years back, my wife and I enrolled our boys, Trent and Troy, in something called Cotillion. It’s all about teaching manners and preparing kids to interact with others as maturing young men and women.
The boys were apprehensive at first, but I assured them, “Don’t worry, guys. They’ll mostly teach you table manners.” At least, that’s what I had been told.
Boy, was I wrong. In fact, a good portion of the experience was about ballroom-style dancing.
My boys were mortified. I still remember my oldest son, Trent, glaring at me from across the room as if to say, “You. Are. Dead.” We still laugh about that moment.
Fortunately, it all turned out for the best. My boys held girls’ hands for the first time and learned to introduce them to adults.
Even Trent could see the value of it when it was all said and done. He later told me, “That’s where I learned how to shake someone’s hand properly and look an adult in the eye.”
Bam! That gets to the heart of the matter, right there. You see, good manners have value far beyond how a child behaves at the dinner table or whether or not they master common courtesies like “please” and “thank you.”
Good manners are a predictor of future success. Studies indicate that children who have good manners are perceived better by both their peers and by adults. When those kids grow up, their employers consider them better employees, and they tend to have better marriages. They’re more successful in life overall.
You may not enroll your child in a formal setting like we did to further enhance your child’s manners and maturity. And that’s okay.
Over the next couple of programs, we’ll bring the expertise to you. Our guest is author Donna Jones. She’ll share easy-to-follow ideas you can begin using with your child today.
Like this one – remember these three R’s: Rehearse, remind, and reinforce.
It starts with “rehearsing” whatever you’d like your child to learn. So let’s say you have a visitor coming to your house. You can tell your son or daughter, “When I introduce you, I’d like you to smile, look him in the eye, and say, ‘It’s nice to meet you.’” Then, help your child practice, so they’ll feel comfortable.
Next, “remind” your child. Right before your guest arrives make sure your child remembers what you asked them to do. And if you have younger children, be patient. They may need a little nudge when the big moment comes. Don’t shame or embarrass them. Just give your child a simple reminder of what to do when it’s time for them to speak.
Finally, reinforce their good manners. When your guest leaves, tell your child, “I was so proud of you when I introduced you to my friend, and you looked him in the eye and said, ‘It was nice to meet you.’ You did such a great job.”
That’s just one of the tips she’ll share on our program, “Teaching Good Manners to Your Kids.” You can hear it on your local radio station. Or tune in anytime online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
I think you’ll walk away with a lot of great ideas that, when backed up with some consistency, will begin to produce the changes you’re looking for in your child’s manners.