Instilling a Code of Conduct in Kids
Q: [Parents] I’m noticing unusual (and impolite) habits in my 8- and 10-year-olds. I am not sure if they are being influenced at school by the other kids, or if it’s just a phase. Are there things I can do at home or classes to help instill a long-term (if not lifelong) courteous demeanor in my children?
A: Yes, we are all battling negative influences from television, Internet, social media and others in school. The amount of time spent with media should be curtailed. Children will benefit with more quality time spent with family and friends rather than entertainment sources and social media.
This is an ongoing battle, and you can never give up pursuing the development of personal communication skills. Teaching excellent habits begins as a family and should be implemented on a daily basis.
The following are some daily reinforcements to replace impolite and bad habits with new and healthy manners. Every day, take the opportunity to have your children actively see you use your good manners that are organic and natural – ones you don’t even have to think about.
- Greet someone with a warm smile; use their name if you know it; and look them in the eyes.
- Say please and thank you.
- Write a thank you note.
- Hold the door open for someone.
- A hug goes a long way.
- Express to your kids that you are proud of them.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line.
- If someone drops something, pick it up for them.
- Give up your seat for an elderly person.
- Make eye contact in conversation.
We can be a legacy of kindness, love and inspiration for our children in influential daily behaviors and acts of kindness by acknowledging their successes and achievements as well.
Debra J. Kirkham, MBA, is an etiquette instructor for children ages 6 to 12. She is certified through Mimi’s Manners. She studied business etiquette in 11 different countries and dining etiquette in England, Scotland and Wales. Visit www.mimismanners.com for more information.