Teach your child to mind his manners!
My Life, My Rules!! Sounds familiar?? This is the new mantra of the kids of the present generation, be they five or fifteen years of age! So the task at hand is nothing short of taming the wild.
Don't we all look at a well mannered and well turned out kid or an adult with awe? Yes, they generally grab everyone's attention. Now how do we reach there? Well, there are no shortcuts in life, nor any magical solutions!
Teaching kids to mind their manners and grooming them to be responsible well-balanced citizens involves investing a lot of our time and patience into it. It is a constant, continuous effort involving a lot of practice and reinforcement on a regular basis.
So as parents of the present generation we don't belong to the Iron Age for sure! We have to learn to tackle them with the same Mantra - My Home, My Rules, right from day one. Carefully list out some easy to follow rules for your children and guide them towards following it. The same sets of rules apply for the adults and the kids!
We often see our little daughters trying to adorn a bindi or lipstick and at times even drape a saree. And boys often want to know when they can shave like their dads? This is enough to prove that children ape their parents.
We can't yell at our spouses and expect our kids to be polite when they talk. Babies are great at aping, so remember, you are under constant scrutiny and observation! So the onus is on you as parents to set a living example at every step.
So make a conscious effort and be polite. Be generous in using the words – please, sorry, thank you, excuse me and may I. I know, we wish everyone a ‘Good Morning' at office, what about the people at home? Don't they deserve to be wished? End each day with a warm 'Good Night' too. Once this is achieved, your child adopts this as a lifestyle and you won't have to put in any special effort teaching them this.
I remember when my daughter was around two when she had just learnt to wish others, a ‘good morning' and a ‘good evening'; she would follow it so religiously, that she would even wish the newspaper boy, our maid, the watchman and the rickshaw wala too!! No harm, this only brought a smile on their faces and they also learnt to wish her back! Creating positive vibes...
In the evenings, the children of the housing society where we stayed generally gathered to play on the lawns near the gate from where they could see their dads return back from office. My daughter had to explore her newly acquired skills.(this is the practice and reinforcement which should be encouraged) The minute any uncle entered the gate, she would come up with a prompt, loud 'good evening uncle'. This would instantly bring a smile on the generally tired uncle's face and they would happily reciprocate the same. Soon this became a wild craze! All the children started wishing the much-awaited uncles every day. They soon got into a competition as to who would be the first to wish.
So my daughter ended up teaching many others what she had learnt at home! She was soon the talk of the town, for all the good reasons. At social gatherings, she turned to be a good mother to her little brother looking into his needs, when her mom was busy with her friends. So my kids were popular in their circle for being independent! All credit to me, for I didn't bother to check on them every minute, and gave them and myself some space.
The same rule applies for being ‘well turned out' - dressing sense. Right from the time they have been babies, my children have learnt by observing me and by the way I get them dressed that there are different dress codes for different places and occasions. By the time my daughter was three, she knew for sure, that if it was going out for a walk, she has to wear some sports or walking shoes! And if she was getting dressed for a birthday party, she knew it would be some dress shoes like kitten heels or pumps. She also knew that bathroom slippers were a big no for any place outside the home. As she grew up she knew based on previous experiences, that certain occasions demanded traditional clothes and certain places called for formal attire and within the comforts of your home, one can wear anything they considered as most comfortable!
The logic is the same in nurturing any skill or mannerisms. Give your child enough first-hand experiences so that he can learn by observing and practicing it. The first time you see your child hold a spoon the wrong way, correct him immediately. Also, demonstrate the right way. Continue correcting him till he gets it right. You don't have to wait till he his five to do so, because if we don't check it immediately, the child learns it the wrong way and later it is very difficult to correct what he has already learnt.
So as parents, guide your child and help him to see what is right and wrong. Be a role model for your child. Both parents should be on the same page to avoid giving contradicting opinions on any issue in front of the child. In this way the child will develop complete faith in both the parents and will blindly follow your statements. They would have judged by now that every rule is endorsed by both parents and there is no escape!!
By being a role model, and teaching your child the right way to do things at a very young age, you are saving yourself of a lot of trouble later. By the time your child is four, he would have mastered most of the basic manners and etiquettes. And then there is no stopping.
I would like to finish with these words from the Bible (Proverbs 22:6) - Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.