Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to get together with lots of good old friends and their families. One of the highlights of visiting with my girlfriends was seeing how much their little ones have grown!
Yet, my friend Caitlin’s daughter especially impressed me. When Caitlin first arrived, her daughter walked up to the group of adults and politely introduced herself to us all. She shook everyone’s hands and even complimented the hostess’ home. It was hard to believe this elegant young lady was just seven years old. I mean, this curly-haired tot was just about to enter first grade, yet she was more well-spoken and personable than many of the adults I come in contact with daily.
Start at an early age
My friend explained that she began teaching tid-bits of politeness from the very beginning. Instead of using a “baby voice” to interact with her little one, she spoke to her in a more mature (while still, of course, very friendly) manner. Likewise, she suggested always using words like “please” and “thank you” while giving and taking objects from the baby. This helps to ingrain polite words into their vocabulary very early.
Reward with praise
It’s also a good idea to reward good manners with praise. Tell your little one how impressed you are with him or her for saying “Hello” and “Goodbye” to an acquaintance and for introducing themselves by name. This is something that seems simple to adults, but can be intimidating for children. For this reason, start praising small the steps as soon as he or she can talk and stay patient. Always remember, that a little positive reinforcement goes a long way!
Another tip Caitlin offered to me was to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Discuss beforehand what you both expect from your child in terms of manners and what you both hope to teach him or her. For example, maybe your husband grew up in the South where it is common to use “Yes Sir” and “No Ma’am” throughout life to any and all elders. Whereas, maybe you think this practice is old fashioned. Just be sure to come to a common understanding so then your little one understands what is expected of him or her.
Be a good example
Finally, try to mind your best manners in front of your little one. It’s easy to slip from time to time (especially on a bad day!) but just do your best! Surely you’re already a fantastic example for your baby and will continue to be the perfect model of politeness as he or she grows up!
What other tips do you have? Leave them in a comment below!
Lots of love,
Brittany & the New Little Wonders family