Teaching manners is probably the most repetitive task we have as parents. Kids aren’t born knowing how to politely interact with others. In fact, they are born incredibly selfish by nature.
It is our duty as parents to teach positive social skills. I know plenty of adults that wouldn’t earn a gold star from Emily Post. So, I do not expect that my littles are perfect in the manners department. However, that doesn’t mean we are lacks on manners in our house. I remind them daily that good things often come from using good manners.
All parents have moments when they question whether their child has absorbed a single lesson in manners, but then there are those beautiful moments when they finally demonstrate that they actually heard the multiple reminders and use good manners without being prompted.
I find it increasingly more difficult to finding a happy balance between raising entitled and grateful kids. As much as I want to provide my kids with everything they need, and even some of their wants too; how do we prevent them from taking it all for granted? How do we insure they don’t grow to expect all the privileges and opportunities we provide them with? I want my kids to find value and respect along the way, and always remember to feel gratitude over entitlement.
My ultimate goal as a parent is to raise respectful, thoughtful, and kind humans. So with my very best efforts, here are some of the values we hold high in our home.
We serve others
We help others and leave things better than we found them. My husband and I try to lead by example in this area, and include the boys in this as much as possible. We want them to see us helping our family and friends, and help them find opportunities to do the same.
For the past two years, my family has joined forces with other families and a local charity that strives to provide cozy Pajamas to children in Foster care. With the help of our local schools and community, we have provided over 3,000 new pajamas to kids in need. It was a great opportunity to help my kids serve others.
We write thank you notes.
My kids know, if you don’t write a thank you note, you don’t get to enjoy the gift. Starting on their 2nd birthday, I include them in thank you notes. At 2, they can scribble with a crayon on my written note, and I explain to them the importances of being grateful for gifts. School age children are able to write short thank you notes with little assistance.
My kids do chores…
and we don’t pay them for it. In our house, everyone helps out. As toddlers, we include them in sorting laundry, sweeping, and vacuuming. They help in our garden by watering and pulling weeds. We introduce age appropriate chores such as putting your cups and plates in the sink after mealtimes, and eventually rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher.
Hold the door for the person behind you
Holding the door for the person behind you is a must for my kids. It’s not only polite, but it teaches kids to be aware of others and their surroundings.
We use good table manners
If our kids aren’t polite at the table, they are excused from the table. They can try again once they’re ready to return to the table with their manners. We ask our kids to wait until everyone is seated before they begin eating. My kids do not have to finish everything on their plate. They don’t even have to try it. But they are reminded that the only polite response to a plate of food in front of them is, “thank you.”
Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet, but the first step in raising kind and grateful adults, starts with kind and grateful kids.