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when to start with manners?

post #1 of 317
Thread Starter 
My son is still quite young to learn about manners etc. but I'd still like some advice on teaching him 'thank-you, good morning," etc.
My SIL seems to always be telling her kids (ages 5 and 9) to say please and thank-you, but they never do!
They come to my house, don't greet me, open the fridge, take a drink of pop from the bottle and sit down on the sofa. They find the remote control, flick on the TV, eat their bag of chips they've brought in and when they're done with their snack, the bag goes on the floor and the hands are wiped on my cushions. :
Anyways, all the while this is going on, their mom is reminding them: "Say hello to your Aunt Vero....Ask for permission if you want a drink.....put your feet down....saying thank-you....put the bag in the garbage....wash your hands...."
Her kids are not bad kids, but they just don't get how to act in someone's house. It seems as though my SIL is trying to teach them proper manners, but they just simply ignore her.
I really don't want my DS to act like this! How do I instill these values and when do I start?
post #2 of 317
start when they are babies and the secret is really quite simple - treat them as you want them to treat others. When they hand you something, say thank you. When you ask them something, say please. If they are playing and you need to interrupt, say "excuse me, may I interrupt you?"

Also, children will do what is expected of them - meaning when DD was a baby after we played with something we played the clean up game - and now Ihave a 3-1/2 year old who cleans her room without being asked to every night before bed - well, most of the time.

At least it's worked for us! People are constantly complimenting my DD on her good manners.
post #3 of 317
First and foremost I think you model the behaviour you want and you start that about the time they can recognize you as "mom". That's what, about 30 seconds out of the womb? Seriously, I think that modeling is the most important thing you can do and you do that from the very beginning.

Beyond that, my nearly 3 YO is good about saying please and such. I don't think I consiously taught this much before about 2. Now I will wait quietly until she asks nicely rather than demanding something, but I don't nag. I quietly coach proper manners when we are visiting someone. And respect for all of God's creation (including people, yourself and your environment) is THE big value in our family and we talk about it constantly.

I suspect your SIL's children ignore her about things other than manners. Sounds like she has one of those parenting styles that I call "all flutter, no substance." At the point that a child of mine was so rude, I would be standing in front of them, turning off the TV and taking away the snacks and drinks until I got their attention. Then we would probably go home.

If you are effective at teaching respect for others, then manners are a snap.
post #4 of 317
Didn't read all replies, but I think there is no "start" to this. Children always treat others how they have been treated - not how they have been nagged to behave.

It never fails. They have this nifty little survival mechanism that makes them immitate the behavior of adults and older children around them. It sounds like your nieces and nephews are subject to so much nagging and harrassment that they are fully tuned out at this point. I'm very sorry you have to have them ransack your house.

Just consistently treat your child respectfully and there will be no issues.
post #5 of 317
Just thought of a funny example:

The other day we told DS (almost 2) about Santa Clause and when he retold the story back to us about how Santa will bring him a present he added, "And I'w tell him 'Thank You' for pwesent, Santa! Want tell Santa 'Thank You'."

I've never once told him to say anything. I think it's obnoxious - I don't like anyone telling me what I have to say. I just thank him for things he does that are helpful, kind, or thoughtful.
post #6 of 317
we start when they are babies. If they are old enough to talk they are old enuogh to say thank you and please and excuse me. If they can sit up they can sit nicely at teh table. and most importantly we are consistant. I bet your sister doesn't make them act all polite at home and that is why they have no idea how to act when they come to your home. her remiinders are feeble attepts to say "we're working on it" but chances are when they are at someones house it is the only time they are working on it.

So start working on it now and start at home. If you don't wan't your child eating on someones coush with greesy hands start with everyone eating at teh table at your home. they will see you doing it. i t iwil be normal. they will be expected to do it at home. it will be normal. when they go to someones home it won't even be a question. Say thank youto them. remind them to say it. then when it comes up in public it won't be an issue because it will be normal.
post #7 of 317
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post #8 of 317
I agree with the pp's too about modeling. That is SO important (imo) and of course, no one is perfect so your children are not going to behave like angels all the time-- but I feel that if you are consistent in your modeling of the behavior you want to see and very positive when they model it back (not talking praise really, just maybe something like ... "I heard you say thank you when Johnny handed you the ball, I thought that was nice of you" --- or whatever)...it will be something that comes naturally to them in *most* normal situations.


Also, I don't intend to sweat the small stuff in the manners area. I mean, I think intention, wording, and tone of voice go a long way too without me having to hear the "right" words. This was discussed in another thread...for example, sometimes I don't say please to my husband (and vice versa), but rather something like "sweetie, while you are up would you mind getting me some water?" ...my husband knows I am being kind and asking nicely, he doesn't have to hear the "magic" word...

Manners are important in many situations, as to most people it is a sign of respect and the polite thing to do -- and while we plan on modeling the "right" words...it is much more important (to us) that the intention, tone of voice, and kindness is there -- even if they forget the "right" words or decide to say something else in their place to express themselves.
post #9 of 317
Thread Starter 
Captain Crunchy- I agree that one doesn't necessarily have to say 'the magic words' if the intent is there../ex.."sweetie, can you pass the salt..."

I just see some of my friends' kids who act really disrespectful towards others...like grabbing my DS's head, when they are told--nicely---to be careful with the baby. I mean, I consider these *good parents* and want to teach my son basic respect of other people's property etc.

Great advice from everyone! Thank-you...

BTW: what does 'crunchy' mean? I've seen it used as 'crunchy' mom...etc.
post #10 of 317
I have to agree that this isn't really something that is taught so much as modelled. My dd is only 20 months, so I don't have much experience with this yet. She does say please and thank you a lot, not always in the right context (sometimes she says thank you when she wants to give me something) but often she's right on. Coincidentally, as I type this, she dropped her book and said "Mommy get it please" and then "thank you" after I handed it back to her! She also says excuse me when she wants to get past someone, says it to the dog and cats too! We've never told her to say thank you or please, she's just picked it up as it is part of the way we speak to and treat each other. I hope that by simply being respectful and polite to her and to each other and the people we interact with every day, she will understand that this is how to treat others and it will carry into childhood.
post #11 of 317
I think modeling is the best way to do this and making it fun, not a chore and definitely not a power battle. If you make it a power battle then the child wins because you can devise whatever punishment you want but if they don't use the manners they still win. From what I have read though even the mainstream magazines don't expect kids to begin using their manners until they are closer to 5 and I have never read something that talks about when they should have near perfect manners. Maybe instead of badgering the kids to not do things asking them to do something like get a napkin to wipe their hands with or taking their shoes off so their feet can go wherever would be a better solution. It may be that they have great manners at friends houses but consider you to be family and think they should be able to feel at home in your house.
post #12 of 317
Modelign is the key. I also found that when you expect your kids to respect you that they will respect others. And obviously treating them with respect in terms of saying please, thank you, and not grabbing things out of their hands unless they're dangerous.
I interrupt my kids as needed, but nicely - I'll wait until they finish singing, or say ""scuse me, darlin', but mama needs to vaccuum the floor."
post #13 of 317
Start when they are babies. And it is not going to cause harm, when they are older and "forget" as children sometimes do, to nicely remind them. Nicely "reminding" is not the same as constantly "nagging".
post #14 of 317
Quote:
And it is not going to cause harm, when they are older and "forget" as children sometimes do, to nicely remind them. Nicely "reminding" is not the same as constantly "nagging".
I disagree. Calling attention to a child's lapse is calling attention to a child's lapse. I think it's rude no matter how nicely worded. Just b/c it's subtle doesn't mean that the child won't feel embarrased. And embarrassing a child over not wording something how you want is manipulation.

Just let it go if they "forget". If you keep modelling, in time they will say things politely of their own volition.

Just as I was typing this, my not-even-2yo-yet DS walked up to me and asked, "Please, help me find Thomas." I've never coerced or manipulated "polite" words out of him even once. I know it works.
post #15 of 317
One thing that helps us was that we do sign language. When we teach the word for food, it is followed by the sign for please. When babies are in the phase where they want to hand everything to you, we sign and say "Thank you." I think the visual helps reinforce.

That said, I think the fact that you recognize that this is something that you want for your kids indicates that it won't be a problem.
post #16 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
Didn't read all replies, but I think there is no "start" to this. Children always treat others how they have been treated - not how they have been nagged to behave.

It never fails. They have this nifty little survival mechanism that makes them immitate the behavior of adults and older children around them. It sounds like your nieces and nephews are subject to so much nagging and harrassment that they are fully tuned out at this point. I'm very sorry you have to have them ransack your house.

Just consistently treat your child respectfully and there will be no issues.
I just want you to know that this is not always true.
We have modeled gratefulness/good manners and our boys still have to be reminded.
post #17 of 317
I agree that manners are the sort of thing that are modelled, not nagged or coerced. My 2 yo has pretty good manners, but that's the sort of thing that's modelled in our home. DH and I thank whoever made dinner that night quite sincerely and now I see DD doing it as well. She uses the same words as us, too. "tank you, I 'preciate that."

If my 2 yo forgets to say Thank you, I do the same with her as I would with my husband. I either say if for her, on behalf of our family or I quietly remind her when we have a private moment.

We are now at that age where she walks up to us and starts talking or asking questions without saying excuse. I vividly remember my parents admonishing me "Don't interrupt" when I did that. Sometimes that still erupts from my mouth, but I see now that *I* need to say excuse me to her when she is playing or talking with her friends instead of barging in with "It's time to go..." Children are such good teachers.
post #18 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneCatholicMommy
I just want you to know that this is not always true.
We have modeled gratefulness/good manners and our boys still have to be reminded.
IMO the idea of "have to" is a value judgement on your part.

So what if they don't say "please" everytime? Are they in danger? The only reason you "have to" remind them is that you are trying to force compliance.

Letting those "slips" go without "reminders" but with continued modelling will result in children who genuinely respect people and want to communicate that by speaking politely. Because they genuinely feel respected too, it's a language they will understand fundamentally.
post #19 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
IMO the idea of "have to" is a value judgement on your part.

So what if they don't say "please" everytime? Are they in danger? The only reason you "have to" remind them is that you are trying to force compliance.

Letting those "slips" go without "reminders" but with continued modelling will result in children who genuinely respect people and want to communicate that by speaking politely. Because they genuinely feel respected too, it's a language they will understand fundamentally.
Yer darn right it's a value judgment! Sometimes we have to be polite when we don't feel like it. Gentle reminders can work wonders.
post #20 of 317
Well, good luck to ya. The irony is that you cannot show politeness if you are embarrassing the child (putting him on the spot) - even if it's in a "nice" voice. So you can't have it both ways. You either model or you coerce.

I just won't be doing that to my kids.
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