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Fun Ways to Teach Manners Through Play

September 24, 2018

GUND Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Soft Toys sitting on toy chest

You want your children to be polite and know the appropriate things to say in social settings. You also don’t want to spend most of your time with your child correcting them or lecturing them on saying “please” and “thank you”. These are important life skills. Not knowing proper manners can cause problems when children start nursery or school as they might be viewed less favourably by teachers and caregivers. This lack of skills can even continue to hamper children as they grow into adults. These are reasons why it is vital to help your children by cultivating the habit of good manners when they are very young.  Here are ways you can combine fun play time with a chance to teach important skills.


Tiny Friends

Typically, small children spend most of their time with their parents or nursery care providers. They might have limited interaction with other adults or older children which in turn limits their opportunities to practice etiquette. That’s where their toys can come in handy. Make a point of using proper manners and encourage your children to do the same. Then be sure to demonstrate those skills with your children’s toys. Their soft toys could be offered food when their children are having some. You can carry on imaginary conversations with their superhero action figures while your child looks on. This can encourage your child to do the same. Ask your child if he or she would like to offer something to one of their toys.


Getting your child’s toys involved makes learning manners more of a game rather than something you’re trying to teach them. Kids are then more likely to continue to play at manners with their toys, even when you aren’t around. Setting an extra place setting at the table for a toy when your child has lunch can be a good way to get the conversation started.


Check Yourself

As parents we’re used to bossing our kids around. That doesn’t mean we can let good manners lapse. If we don’t follow the rules of etiquette we’re trying to teach our children they will quickly pick up on this inconsistency. Remember the baby talk you use on your child before they can talk needs to evolve to more grammatically correct use of language than includes the polite phrasing we will expect from our kids as they grow. Setting an example of the right way to do things will encourage your children to imitate you without you needing to nag them about it.


More Adults

Look for ways for your children to interact with other adults in a controlled setting. Perhaps their grandparents indulge them and ignore bad manners. Meanwhile, your friends and family might raise the bar for behaviour. Visitors, in general, tend to bring out the best manners in everyone so they can helps set a higher standard.


Spending time with other adults is important in other ways. It gives your children a chance to practice enunciating more clearly so that other people can understand them. Parents can usually figure out what their own child is saying, even if it they’re mumbling. People who aren’t around those children all day will have a more difficult time. Trying to carry on a conversation with them will push your children to develop a habit of speaking more clearly while they practice their manners, too. Better verbal skills will be a big advantage when your children start school or whenever they try to get ahead in life.


Board Games

Turn off the television and video games and sit down for some quality time with your children playing board games. The classic games we grew up with don’t have the automatic controls that video games do. Children will need to remember to take turns and follow the rules. Board games can teach children patience as they wait their turns. Meanwhile, moving their tokens around the board can be a chance to practice counting skills.


Play It Again

As parents, there is a lot of forced downtime. We spend time in traffic with our kids driving them to and from nursery or errands. We sit waiting with our children for visits with the doctor or in a queue at the store. These can all be opportunities for your children to practice the manners they’ve used. Make it a game so that they are happy to jump in and provide the correct answers. Be sure to praise them when they have the right response and don’t be negative when they get the answer wrong. Simply encourage them to do better next time. Remember, mistakes are a part of life and learning. They need to know that mistakes are fine as long as they are working to improve. Keep things light and fun and you can all be entertained while your children are learning.

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