A Well-Mannered Child? Yes, Please.

A teacher was giving her class of small children a lesson on good manners. “Suppose, by mistake, you step on a lady’s foot. What do you do?” 

“I’d say ‘excuse me’.”

“Very good. Now suppose that lady, to reward you for your good manners, gives you a dollar. What do you do?”

“Step on the other foot to get another dollar.”

Well, apparently we are not just born with good manners. This we know for sure when our child picks their nose in public or gives out a loud burp during a church service.

The well-mannered child.

We start with this clay and it’s our responsibility to mold them into a masterpiece. Part of being a masterpiece is being well-mannered.  The parents make the decision of what manners will be taught to their little ones.  This a lot of times it depends much on how the parents were raised and where they were raised.   I was a northern child and was never taught to say sir and ma’am.  My husband was a southern boy and it was a form of respect for him.  I loved the southern way of life so we decided we wanted our kids to respond to us with ma’am or sir.  We started when they first started talking and even though it took some practice, it was worth the effort. They took this same tradition and have taught their kids to do the same.

Of course, to be successful at teaching manners you must be consistent. There is nothing more confusing to a child than to be made to do something one day and then not again until a week later when the parent is more in the mood. This is a great disadvantage to your children.  

Confusion sends them on a ride that creates an imbalanced person…not a masterpiece.

Parents must have consistency and stability to parent with proper skills. We cannot teach our kids to do something that we won’t do. I suggest sitting down with your spouse and going over a list of manners and decide which ones you want your children to have. Here are a few manners that we taught our kids:

  • Say ma’am and sir to adults (as opposed to huh, what and yeah).
  • Ask to be excused from the dinner table.
  • Chew with your mouth closed. No smacking food or gum.
  • No burping or passing gas in public.
  • No ‘potty talk.’
  • Look people in the eye and respond when they talk to you.
  • Don’t interrupt when someone is speaking.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • Don’t pick your nose.
  • Do not run around or use loud voices in restaurants.
  • Hold the door open for others.

It’s important to have house rules.  

In addition to expected manners, every family needs to have house rules. When we create house rules, it then doesn’t become personal when a member of the family breaks one and gets into trouble. It’s not that they are unloved and unwanted, it’s simply that they broke a house rule and there area consequences when rules are broken. They don’t have to be made to feel like the black sheep of the family.

When children and teens are given the explanation, ”We don’t do that in this house or you will have to do such and such,” then it’s a rule to be obeyed and it doesn’t have to be taken personally. For example: Johnnie knows the house rules are that we hang up our coats when we come in the house. We don’t throw them on the sofa. When he does not obey that house rule and throws his coat on the sofa as he walks in the door, the parents don’t respond in anger and scream at him.  The parents simply say, “Johnnie, you know the rule is to hang up your coat and you chose not to do so the last couple of days. The consequence for breaking that rule is you will be staying inside after school for the rest of this week to help you remember to respect our house rules.”  It’s not complicated and there is no need to make it a big deal.  

Simply state the rule and the consequences for breaking that rule.  

Here are some suggestions for house rules to get your mind thinking.  You can combine this with your manners list.

  • We don’t respond with attitudes.
  • We don’t roll our eyes.
  • We don’t scream or pitch fits.
  • We answer when spoken to.
  • We don’t speak when an adult is speaking.
  • We do not cry or sulk to get our way.
  • We never talk back to an adult.
  • We respect other’s belongings and ask before using.
  • We never hit anyone out of anger or frustration.
  • We make our bed every morning.
  • We carry our plate to the sink after eating.
  • We take our shoes off when entering the house.
  • We close the door when going in or out.
  • We take our dirty clothes to the laundry room.
  • We clean our bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • We adhere to set curfews.
  • We forgive each other when apologized to.
  • We don’t allow alcohol, tobacco and pornography in our home.

It’s important to remember that this works best when the house rules are set in advance – even post them up somewhere if necessary. House rules should not change every other day and we shouldn’t punish only when we are in the mood. Consistency is key. Having a list of house rules will make life so much better for the entire family. It eliminates nagging and bickering and can help create a peaceful home. Simply put, these are the rules for this house. If you find a child is constantly breaking house rules and really doesn’t care about the consequences, then take some time to understand why. If a child is constantly in trouble, we must determine the underlying reason.

Setting and enforcing manners and house rules plays an important role in creating a masterpiece.

To Do: Take the time to determine the manners you want your children to have.  Also, determine with your spouse the house rules you want for your family. Make a list of your house rules along with consequences if they are broken.  Post and go over them with your kids. Let there be no confusion on what the rules are.  I assure you that this will make parenting easier and more enjoyable for you. Google some stories about kids and manners and read them to your children. There are many really good ones out there at our disposal.

Suggested Family Time:  For the little ones, play Simon says.  If you have teens get them involved by being the leader.  Do some crazy actions and make it a blast.  If you don’t have little ones, take each teen out separately for lunch or an ice cream.  Talk to them about their future and what they love to do.  This is not a time for sermons or lectures. Give them personal attention. No cell phones allowed! 🙂

Time to Smile:  You’re up each night until 10:00 PM…vacuuming, dusting, wiping, washing, drying, loading, unloading, shopping, cooking, driving, flushing, ironing, sweeping, picking up, changing sheets, changing diapers, bathing, helping with homework, paying bills, budgeting, clipping coupons, folding clothes, putting to bed, dragging out of bed, brushing, chasing, buckling, feeding (them – not you)…PLUS swinging, playing baseball, bike riding, pushing trucks, cuddling dolls, roller blading, basketball, football, catch, bubbles, sprinklers, slides, nature walks, coloring, crafts, jumping rope…PLUS raking, trimming, planting, edging, mowing, gardening, painting, and walking the dog. You get up at 5:30 AM and you have no time to eat, sleep, drink, or go to the bathroom, and yet, you still managed to gain 10 pounds. That’s the life of a mom!

Recommended Reading:  Eight Things Not to Say to Your Teen by William Coleman

Recap: Raising a Samuel – It is so essential to teach our children to hear from God through His Word and from His voice. This blog encourages you to teach your children to read and memorize God’s Word so that it gets deep in their hearts.

I want to thank you for being a part of this blog. It’s so encouraging to hear from all of you that are committed to growing in knowledge as you strive to mold your precious gift from God into a masterpiece. Are you looking to get the latest? I recommend clicking on “follow” and you’ll be notified when a new blog is available.