Beyond please and thanks

Author of Manners and Me: An EasyPeasy Guide for Kids and the Grown-Ups Who Love Them, Nancy Dorrier gives the lowdown on minding your Ps and Qs


Nancy Dorrier

Learning good manners is important because it helps us in our relationships and projects. It helps us get along with each other and it makes a happier family/environment. It also makes you more attractive and a pleasure to be around if you have good manners. It is important for individuals as well as for a team of people, whether it’s family, a class, work, or sports team.

Tips for new parents who are struggling to teach their children good behaviour

  • You’re teaching your children just like you might teach math or French, so don’t expect them to already know it or be judgmental of their bad behaviour. They’re learning and their brains are developing.
  • Teach manners in short lessons and stick to them. Whatever you teach, you need to reinforce and stay consistent with your expectations.
  • Explain to them that you’re a person too and they can help you. One of the ways they can help is to have good behaviour. You are not their servant and should not be taken for granted. You need love and care just as much as they do.

Creative ways that parents can reward good manners

  • Listen to them and take what they say to heart.
  • Thank them profusely for specific things you see them doing; for example, you might say, “Thank you for waiting to eat until we all get to the table. I really appreciate that. It makes me so happy.”
  • Reward them with appreciation and respect. I don’t think you should reward good manners with prizes or privileges.

How parents can display good manners to their children

  • One of the best manners that parents can display to their children is listening, no matter the topic. Listening to your children creates a safe place for them. Children do have lofty ideas and it is good to go along with them and not shut down the ideas. If a child says, “I think I want to do a lemonade stand and raise money for the homeless. Will you help me?,” instead of saying, “I don’t have time for that or I don’t think that’s a good idea,” ask them more about their idea. You want to build them up even if they never do the lemonade stand. Take your children seriously and listen to them.
  • Another way to display manners to your children is for the adults in the home to have good manners with each other. Good manners require slowing down and being kind and thoughtful and demonstrating that to the children.
  • Apologize when needed, whether to them to the other parent. Apologizing is an important skill to have, and modeling this to your children show that you make mistakes too.