There are many benefits when you teach good manners to preschoolers. Every parent loves to hear from other parents, teachers or their own parents, how polite and well-mannered their children are. Parents with well-mannered children don’t worry about sending their children on play dates to friends’ houses. How do parents raise children who regularly are polite, thankful, and use good manners? What kind of work is needed to teach manners? The answers are simpler than you might imagine.
A preschool classroom is different than home, but the ideas are the same and teaching manners to preschoolers can be applied to children of any age. In the classroom, teachers model good manners, do role plays and games that practice manners, and make using manners fun.
At home you must first, and most importantly, model good behavior for your children. This may sound like common sense, but it you must never forget how much children copy the behavior they see from their parents. Start with the basics. Say “please” and “thank you” throughout the day. Say it to the children and others around you. Make sure the children hear you use these words several times all throughout the day. Encourage them to use the words too. Remind them when necessary. If your child says, “Get me…” or, “I’ll take…” and intends for you to jump up and get something, remind your child to ask appropriately, using words like, “May I please have ________” instead. Everyone feels good when they are thanked, even for small things. After a while, the reminders won’t be needed.
Second, teach kids the difference between asking and telling. For instance, “Please pass the salt” versus “Give me the salt” is obvious. Encourage the kids to use the phrases “May I have” and “Could you please” in place of “I want…,” “I’ll take…” and “Give me…” With practice this new habit will stick when they are out of the house.
Changing unwanted behaviors will take time and effort, especially if they are new to a family’s routine. Sometimes setbacks will happen. When they do redirect and model correct behavior. If your child says “Give me some milk,” reply, “May I have some milk please?” Wait for the child to repeat your words, and then respond appropriately. Your reply could also be, “How do you ask?” giving the child a chance to rephrase her request. Do not yell, and be sure to be calm. Remember, they are watching and they will copy your every response. Once you hear your family speaking kindly to one another out of habit, it will be well worth the time.