This may seem obvious but one of the most important and sometimes challenging roles as parents and caregivers is to help our children develop social skills and learn how to interact in a polite and respectable manner.

The essence of having good manners lies in having respect for oneself and those around you. Good manners also show that a child is listening to their parents and does what he/she is being taught. This is because children (like adults too) imitate the behaviours they see around them, so you can be sure they are watching you and taking in ev-er-y-thing!

The key is to start the process of teaching good manners from a young age and to be consistent. Here are some ways to start;

Choose your words

In a nutshell, make use of polite language. These are words like please, thank you, excuse me and so on. The best way your child will pick up on them is by hearing you use those words every day and in a variety of situations. Repetition will help these words to really stick. Your polite children will grow into polite adults and this shows the people they are socialising with that they care and respect them.

Teach them how to greet

Many of us take for granted the importance of properly greeting someone because it has become second nature. But this is a very important skill that should be taught to a kid from early on. First start by emphasising eye contact and then practice some common questions like ‘how are you?’ and ‘I’m fine thanks and you?’. This boosts confidence and makes sure your little bundle of joy doesn’t give out too much information. When you think about a job interview, first impressions count which means a confident and well executed, polite and confident greeting will go a long way. This is an example of just one of the ways you are helping to prepare them for their adult life.

Practice patience

Children have the attention span of a fish so when they want to express themselves, they want to do it NOW. It won’t matter what is happening around them or who they are interrupting which is why it is up to you as the parent to get them into the habit of waiting their turn to speak. Growing up to be THAT person who is constantly interrupting or lacking the patience to wait your turn doesn’t make you very popular in social circles; moreover lacking patience in the workplace will only make you an unpopular person and colleague.

Learning how to follow rules

Although some rules were made to be broken, when it comes to being a polite guest in someone’s home, your child should always know to follow the parent’s rules. This is about cleaning up after yourself and having good manners. You are instilling the right set of morals from a young age that will follow them through into adulthood where good manners, neatness and being able to listen to authority figures, are required in the workplace or other people’s homes.

Assign chores

This is about teaching kids to hold responsibility and to learn to tidy up after themselves. These same expectations will be easier and more natural to follow when they grow up and are away from their own home. Chores assist in building character, confidence and pride.

Teaching your kids manners from a young age is not only important for their general well being as children but has huge ramifications in their lives as aspiring successful adults. The morals and values they are taught while young, about having respect and manners, play a big role in your child’s future as young adults.