This week I was so disappointed and embarrassed when a young boy who was seated near me in a taxi spit through the window to the streets.
I was forced to play the parental role of advising the child against such a practice. Luckily enough he seemed to have agreed with me that it was not the right thing to do and promised never to do it again.
This was just one incident that happens when parents fail or forget to do their job to teach their children to be courteous.
Helping children develop good manners involves being thoughtful and considerate parents, Manners cannot be taught in the same way as history or geography can-(learning by rote).
It is something that is built up over a period of time by feeding the children in small manageable doses.
Teaching children manners especially school going ones can be difficult as they are exposed to all sorts of things at school. However as a parent you have to be patient as you try to teach your children.
Of course in early childhood, children learn from their parents and as parents you should endeavor to be good role models. By being a good role model as a parent it becomes much easier to teach children good manners.
For instance, being polite should come naturally to them and this will happen only when they see their parents being polite to others.
The rules should be the same for everybody immaterial of whether it is a child or a parent.
A parent cannot demand a “privilege” that he can be impolite to others just because he is older and expect the child to behave politely.
Learn to acknowledge a kind gesture and make sure the child notices this.
Praise good behavior but never condemn bad behavior. Let the child realize for itself that it has not behaved properly.
This can be brought home in many ways. While answering the telephone, the child must be taught to speak slowly and politely, take a message correctly and deliver it.
While dining along with others, it must be taught to behave well.
Ensure that you do not poke fun or ridicule anyone in the presence of the child and only laugh at jokes which are wholesome. Children should be encouraged not to tease other children even if he is teased himself.
Controlling anger and other negative emotions is very important. Children often scream and throw tantrums when they are angry or they hit out at others.
Such situations calls for immense patience from the parent, so instead of punishing the child, try to teach it to handle anger.
Teach it to count till ten or make the child look at itself in the mirror when angry and compare it with the image when it smiles.
It always pays to be honest and this quality should be encouraged. Allow the child to see for itself how you are honest in small things—like returning excess change or returning what was unintentionally given.
You will be surprised that with this as a base, the child develops a strong sense of honesty and cannot lie even if it wanted to.
Parents need to understand that just helping children to develop good manners is not something, which is instantaneously produced. It is hard work for the child who often tends to forget rules.
In spite of doing all this, things may not work out the way you want them to, merely because the child is only a child.
Never criticize the child in public in front of others for nothing can be more demeaning. Help the child to envisage what the feelings of the other person is and more often than not it will refrain from doing what it originally intended to do.
Allow the children to work things out for themselves and only intervene when absolutely necessary. Teach them to share what they have because by doing so the child will have no room for selfishness.
Countering bad influences is as important as doing things right. In a world in which the child is going to be exposed to good and bad, it cannot be protected from everything.
Help it to make sense of right from wrong and allow it to use its judgment. You will be amazed at the strength of character it displays.
Parents while limiting the amount of television the children watch can use characters in the television as a learning experience.
They also need to know that compromise and tolerance are two things that must be learnt and the sooner they learn the better for them. All said and done, parents must monitor their own behavior.