Oct 28, 2008, 6:34 AM
It is an undeniable fact that teaching our children to be well behaved is a goal for every parent, but it can sometimes be difficult to know what techniques will work best. Children who are polite, helpful, cooperative, and know how to control themselves are a pleasure to be around.
In a world in which children are going to be exposed to the good and bad, helping them develop good manners involves being thoughtful and considerate parents. Manners cannot be taught in the same way as history or geography can, as it is something that is built up over a period of time by feeding the children in small manageable doses.
As the child passes through the various stages of growth, his understanding and empathy also increases. However, school-going children often have it really rough.
They have to sort out for themselves the difference between enthusiasm, exuberance and rudeness. In such a situation, teaching children manners is very difficult, and it only requires one to be patient.
Children are like tender trees, and can be made to grow up in the way that you want them to. All it requires is a lot of patience, and bringing oneself down to the level of the child in order to see things from its perspective. As parents, we have to learn to accept mistakes, and try to correct them as unobtrusively as possible.
It always pays to be honest, and this quality should be encouraged. Parents should allow their children to see for themselves how they are honest, in small things like returning excess change or returning what was unintentionally given. With this as a base, one would be surprised that the child develops a strong sense of honesty, and cannot lie even if he or she wanted to.
When we act, and do things in the same way that we expect them to act, it becomes a little easier. 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 everyone, and it is immaterial whether it is a child or a parent. A parent cannot demand the prerogative that he can be impolite to others, just because he is older, and expect the child to behave politely.
If we show a child the clear laws of nature, norms of behaviour between man and his environment, and how he can ensure his good existence, what could be better for our little ones that are just starting out in life? An education like this puts a little one on the right track from childhood.
As parents, we 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; and it is harder work for the parents who have to see that rules are constantly enforced, so that they become a habit.
Call it a reward or call it a bribe, offering something that your child enjoys, in exchange for behaviour that you enjoy, is a system that works.