March’s Parenting Tip: Teaching Children Manners

Feb 28, 2024

Do you find yourself wondering how to teach your children manners?

According to Shannon Stapleton, Curriculum Specialist for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek and West Allis/Wauwatosa, “Teaching manners is easier than you think.”

Here are some tips:

Set Standards
As the parent, you set the expectations for your children. Establish rules and guidelines that are important to your family’s specific values.

Be a Role Model
You are a role model for your children. Children watch and imitate everything you do and say. If your family expectation is to say please when you ask for something, then that behavior starts with you. When you continuously model the standards you establish, your children will understand they are important to you and will imitate your behavior.

Reinforce Positive Behaviors
When you see your children exhibit the standards you established, let them know. Avoid phrases like “good job” as this does not tell your children what they did well. Be specific in your recognition and praise. If your children held the door open for someone, tell them that holding the door open was a very kind thing to do. Now they know what they did well and why.

Don’t Allow Interruptions and Don’t Interrupt
It is common for your children to want your attention immediately and often when you are in the middle of something else. As preschoolers, your children are old enough to wait a few minutes until you are finished with what you are doing. Inform your children you will be with them as soon as you finish. Model that same behavior. Do not interrupt your children when they are in the middle of doing something. Give your children the same respect you expect them to give you.

Be Consistent
Remember to use your manners and reinforce good manners on a regular basis. If this is something you are teaching your children, inform other significant adults in your children’s lives. Others who spend time with your children also need to know what your expectations are, so they can reinforce what you are teaching at home.

What to Teach:

Basic Table Manners
Eat with a spoon or fork. Use your napkin to wipe your face and hands. Stay seated at the table while eating.

Using Please and Thank You
Role model good manners by using please and thank you with your children. Encourage the use of please and thank you by reminding them when they forget.

Talking (instead of yelling, crying or screaming)
Help children use words by encouraging them to tell you what they want instead of crying, screaming or yelling. In some cases, children need to know what to say. As a parent and role model, sometimes you need to help your children find the words they need to express their emotions. If your children are screaming for juice, and you have been giving it to them after they scream, change your behavior. When your children scream for juice, tell them to say “May I please have some juice?” Consistency is important. After time, they will begin to ask you for juice instead of yelling or screaming.

Remember it is okay if your children make mistakes. Learning to use manners takes practice and patience. Over time, they will learn to use manners just as easily as other skills.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents. The agency has locations in Downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek and West Allis/Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1138 S. 108th Street, West Allis. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.