Teach children courtesy at a tender age

Toddlers as young as 18 months can begin to grasp the rules of respect. They may not fully understand what you’re teaching them, but you can.

Toddlers as young as 18 months can begin to grasp the rules of respect. They may not fully understand what you’re teaching them, but you can.

“Considering other people’s feelings all the time is one of the most important lessons in life, especially because it comes so naturally to them,” says Sandra Mugabo, a mother of three.

“One time I was with my children and a neighbour happened to lose her keys.  We helped her look for them even when after it got dark and my children were also part of it,” she said. “It wasn’t only about helping her but I wanted to show my children to always stick with friends even though they have to go out of their own comfort.”  She further said that talking to toddlers about caring for others helps them take up this value, even without fully understanding it. Greeting someone is the first step to being polite. Mugabo says at 15 months, her little girl Stacy, learnt how to exchange greetings with people even before saying other words. “When visitors came home, she would quickly say hello, and they would be amazed at how polite my little girl was. It didn’t just come; she learnt it from her dad. He is a very social person and when they take a walk together, he says hello to almost all the neighbours he meets,” she said with pride.

Some other characters of politeness develop with time. Toddlers don’t have the motor or emotional skills all at once to practice good table manners so some things need to be repeated over and over and at some point they finally get it and practice it.

Teaching kids to give at Christmas

The Christmas season is the perfect time to teach children and teens the spirit of giving; lessons that can be revisited all year round. In some instances, children and teens are oblivious to those less fortunate whether it be a neighbour who is down on their luck or a village ravaged by flood waters on the other side of the world. For parents who are striving to instill a sense of empathy, giving and nurturing in their child, volunteer opportunities abound that can help enlighten your child to understand the need to support one another in the community, country or globally.

Gifts play an important part of the holiday season. Encourage each family member to contemplate how they can be of service to one another and exchange gifts of ‘time and talents’ in lieu of material gifts between siblings.

The act of volunteering doesn’t have to take on mammoth proportions to make a difference. Simple acts of helping out a neighbour, sick relative or friend in need can help inspire the spirit of giving. Seniors who are isolated or don’t have any extended family nearby will benefit from a visiting volunteer whether it be to share some time socialising or receiving help with odd jobs in their home. Likewise, a neighbour recovering from an illness or injury could probably use some help with meal preparation, or domestic chores.


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