Most children act on impulse not knowing whether or not it’s good for them. Also, most parents want their children to know how to behave, but are not sure where to begin. There are several ways you can teach your child basic etiquette, most importantly, by setting an example on your own and staying consistent.
Etiquette should be taught at a very early age because once bad habits from, it’s difficult to unlearn. As parents, you should realize that from the time their child is born, they become their children’s role models.
If the parents are patient and gentle with everyone, the children will be too and when the parents have good table manners the children will also learn table manners. The best way to teach them etiquette is to practice it in their presence and ensure they learn from you every day.
How and where to start?
In order to teach your children etiquette, you must start with the very basic. And yes, like everything else in life, it should start from your home. The right age to start basic etiquette is between 3 and 4 years. Start with age-appropriate etiquette and slowly move to other rules that you think are good for your child. Don’t overwhelm with rules for which they are not ready yet.
Add new etiquette as the child gets older
Good etiquette never goes out of style. It’s one habit that stays for the lifetime and people that follow these are seen with awe. When you think that your child is old enough to be given a new set of etiquette rules, let them know. Also, tell them how proud you are seeing them well behaved and well mannered all this while.
Here are some basic etiquettes that you can teach your child starting now. There’s no age limit and no time limit as to when you can teach your child.
Greet by name
Greeting anyone is considered a sign of respect and it also means the person is valued. Teach your children to greet children their age by name or ask if they don’t know. Elders should be called either uncle or aunty, as this is how elders are addressed in India.
- Always talk by looking in the eye
This is another basic etiquette that you need to teach your child. Tell them that looking into the eye of people—children and adults—is good etiquette. You should also teach them to keep the eye contact intact and not get distracted as this would send out a wrong signal to the person with whom your child is talking. It goes without saying that looking into someone’s eye is the simplest yet effective way to connect with people.
- Positive comments
Teach your child to add positive comments like “It’s nice to meet you,” “Have a good day,” ”Happy to meet you,” “Thanks for having me here,” Have a great day,” every time they meet someone. Adding positive comments at the beginning itself is important and goes on to show the value your child attaches to the person he/she is speaking to. Whether it’s a Diwali party or even a family gettogether when your child says something like “Thank you for having me,” “Thank you for inviting me,” it shows gratitude and something that will remain for lie with your child.
- Active listening
People appreciate those who listen. Tell your child that listening is an etiquette that will take them places. Active listeners always leave a meaningful impact on the people around them. It’s a very simple etiquette, but something that will leave a lasting impression. Teach them to listen first and talk later.
- Table manners
Children are always fussy eaters and they will always create a mess wherever they eat. Well, it’s not their fault, just that they are learning to eat. You need to teach them table manners such as not to overload their plate, take only as much as they need, not to leave food behind in plates, hold spoon right or ensure the food doesn’t drip on their clothes when eating with hands. You can also teach them how to use cutlery so that they can hold it right.
- Not to stare at anything or anyone
Well, this is something most children do, most of the time unintentionally. While there’s no hard in staring at something interesting, there are people that might take offense and raise an objection. Children wouldn’t know what is good or bad staring. So it’s always good that you teach them to not stare at anything or any person.
- Please, Thank You
This is one of the easiest and most basic etiquettes you can teach them. 1. ‘Please’ when asking for something. 2. ‘Thank you’ when receiving something. 3. ‘Excuse me’ when asking for something or entering an open room 4. ‘Knock’ on the door before entering.
- Keep to their opinion
Teach your child that if they have any negative opinion about anyone or anything, they must keep it to themselves or between friends. The world in particular and adults specifically are not interested in their opinion. Tell them not to comment on people’s food habits, appearance, and color. If they do, tell them that this is the age to study and not comment on people’s physical characteristics.
- Be appreciative
Tell them to be appreciative of everything and everyone. They can keep their opinions to themselves. You must also tell them to not use foul language in front of adults. There are possibilities that the child might learn bad words in school due to certain students but you must tell them in clear words that it’s not acceptable at home and certainly not in front of the adults.
Children must be taught to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. Also, teach them not to pick nose in public as it’s not just gross, but also reflect badly on their raising.
There are other etiquettes that you can teach them like:
- Not to speak badly about food when eating lunch or dinner at a host’s house
- Not to reach for anything on without reach. Ask adults in the house to give it.
- Not to gossip about anyone.
- Find the rightful owner of lost property or give it to the adult in the home for safe custody.
- Showing respect to elders inside and outside the home.
- Not to spit, intentionally burping or breaking wind, throwing things away in anger, or interrupting.
In order to grow as responsible adults, etiquettes are essential for every child. The etiquette you teach today to your child will carry over into adulthood and help make them into successful friends, family persons, and professionals. All the hard work and effort that you have put now into teaching your children basic etiquettes will give him skills to handle himself in a civilized world.
Your child will make a few etiquette mistakes every now and then and your job is to correct those mistakes and move on. You must give your child the freedom to follow up on etiquette learning and grow with them.