Tuesday January 10 2017

How to instil good habits in children


By Carol B. Ataganza

Be a good role model. If you want your child to have good manners, you must first model those good behaviours yourself.
Stay connected with your child in situations that put her at risk for undesirable behaviour. During a visit with other adults, keep your younger child physically close to you (or you stay close to him) and maintain frequent verbal and eye contact. Help your older child feel part of the action so that they are less likely to get bored and wander into trouble.

Expect respect. Believe it or not, the root of good manners is respect for another person; and the root of respect is sensitivity. Sensitivity is one of the most valuable qualities you can instil into your child and it begins in infancy. The sensitive infant will naturally become the respectful child who, because he cares for another’s feelings, will naturally become a well-mannered person. His politeness will be more creative and more heartfelt than anything he could have learned from a book of etiquette.

Limit technology. Become familiar with social media (like Facebook) and other gadgets your children use so you can set realistic ground rules. Set the standard at home by not allowing smart phones or other gadgets at the dining table (yours inclusive).

Take advantage of teachable moments. Even if you go out to eat, insist on children sitting quietly and eating from their own plates with a knife and fork. Talk to them about when it’s okay to eat with their hands and when it’s not.
Prepare children at home for social situations in which you expect good manners. Arm your child with proper phrases, such as, “It’s nice to meet you” and other age-appropriate conversational starters.

Ask for help
Parents are very busy these days. When you send your little one over to grandma’s or auntie’s for the night, ask your relative to enforce manners while they are there. After all it’s a fact that children are more likely to listen to an authority figure who is not a parent.
Buy them books so they can read up on manners and etiquette. One such book is Manners Mash-Up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior. In this book, various well-known children authors/illustrators tackle topics on manners. You can talk over each page with your child, and it can be read easily in several sittings if attention spans dictate. The illustrations are fun and cover a wide range of topics.