from the desk of  Leslie and Kay, founders of  Grandparentslink.com

It doesn’t take but a second to make sure a child is always aware of others; politeness, please and thank you, excuse me and a whole laundry list of manners will clearly make the difference in a child’s world. A youngster who can grasp onto this important concept will clearly avoid that label of being bratty or obnoxious. Don’t wait until it’s too late – start setting an example to your grandchildren and children. You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to start teaching.

Manners are a primary lesson in life, one that starts very early. Developmentally, children are listening all the time…they truly are absorbing every nook and cranny of life around them. Best of all, you play a huge role in this! It’s a great idea early on to insist on some social niceties, and begin instilling customs so that their lives can benefit.

Manners are an art, and they are a learned experience.  When you are with your grandchild, here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Remind a child to look at the person who is speaking.
  • Take away distractions, which interfere with the task at hand.
  • Teach generosity, and sharing, ie, “Let’s share this snack,” or “You were so kind to share your puzzles with your cousin today.”
  • Tell children to say ‘thank you’ often.
  • Give children examples of language for getting their point across or noticed, ie, “Please pass the mustard.”, “May I please see that book?”
  • Be enthusiastic when praising someone; use words that express appreciation, ie, “I love my new toy”, or “Going to the museum is the best gift ever.”
  • Make acknowledgements fun and creative.*

*At the next family gathering, holiday, birthday or the like- take it upon yourself to be the designated photographer; take pictures of the gifts or event.  When it’s time, print them out and help the little one write the appropriate expression on the picture and send it off. “Showing by example” is our motto. Displaying and acknowledging appreciation create a satisfying time well spent.

There are so many clever ways to instill manners in children. With art supplies that are on hand, use your imagination and just take charge for a moment. Is there someone to say thank you to?  Is there a friend who isn’t feeling well? Is there a special teacher or doctor or cousin the kids want to acknowledge? Knowing when to say ‘excuse me’, a ‘hello’ with eye contact, or a simple ‘thank-you’ show a level of gratefulness that will only make your grandchild’s life fuller and more pleasurable for all.