Parenting | Minding Your Ps & Qs

Children will model their behaviour after their friends, whom they spend a lot of time with in school. Teach your child manners; here are 8 tips on raising the best mannered child!

Tip 1 Walk The Talk

The first thing you need to do is have good manners yourself.  Children are very perceptive, and they learn more from your actions than from  any number of things you say to them.  If you tell them to be polite to elders, but you yourself are not courteous to those around you, they won't listen.  What's worse is that they will start emulating your behaviour.

Tip 2 Talk Them Through Tantrums

This is part of culivating emotional intelligence in kids.  If your kids are feeling down or frustrated, be patient with them.  They may not have the vocal capabilities to voice out what it is that's making them angry or sad.  Be their voice.  Talk them through it.  Once your child has calmed down, say things like "i understand you were very angry just now because I didn't allow you to watch TV.  You felt I was being unfair." When you say this, you are helping them identify their feelings.

Continue with "I know this is your favourite show, but we made a deal.  You have to finish your homework before you can watch it.  So tomorrow, how about we get started on your homework earlier?"

Always give them back the control.  Ask open-ended questions and let them come up with an answer themselves.  When they have a sense of ownership over their life, they are likely to be happier kids.  Happier kids equal well-behaved kids.

Tip 3 Be Kind

Always practise kindness, to your kids, to your husband, to the people around you.  Being kind is about empathising with others, and always trying to look at things from another perspective.  It is a surprisingly easy thing to do.  When your kids wake up, greet them with a smile and a hug, instead of rushing them to get ready for school.  When you talk to them, show them a kind gesture, such as a reassuring hand on the shoulder, or squeezing their hands when you send them to the car.  Kindness teaches kids to be considerate among their friends, and to learn to give and take.

Tip 4 Empower Not Scold

Kids are bound to be naughty or get into trouble once in a while.  When this happens, scolding should not be the first thing on your mind.  Analyse the situation.  Was it a genuine mistake?  Was it done deliberately? If it was genuine, tell your child that you are angry that it happened, but you understand that it was a mistake.  Ask her how she is going to make it right?  Again, give the control back to her.  Will she help to clean up the mess and promise to be more careful next time?  Will she replace whatever is broken?  Will she apologise?

If something was done deliberately, it may be a call for attention.  Sit your child down and do tip no.2 above, talk them through the incident.

At the end of it, the message to get across to your child is that though a mistake happened, the main thing is that she did her best to rectify it.

Tip 5 Play with Your Child

This can't be stressed enough.  Spend time playing with your kid.  Through play, you get an idea of what she's like.  Does she play fair?  Does she insist on winning all the time?  Does she let other kids or siblings in the game?  Is she kind with younger kids?  Does she stand up to older kids?  Through this interaction, you gain precious insight into your child's personality.  It gives you the perfect chance to guide her through the difficult moments, such as the issue of sharing, of being a gracious winner/loser, of dealing with personality clashes at play and more.

Tip 6  Screen What They Watch and Read

Watch their shows with them, and browse through their books.  You will be surprised and horrified to know that some cartoons and TV shows for kids feature a lot of rude behaviour and obscene language.  Tell them they are not allowed to watch these shows and why.  Say that the behaviour shown on show is not acceptable in your household.  Even storybooks for kids nowadays showcase bad behaviour. The heroine in the story may be rude or obnoxious to her parents.  Even little details like the heroine rolling her eyes when an adult speaks can be picked up by the children reading them, thinking that it is an ok thing to do.  So screen away.

Tip 7 Know Their Friends

Get to know their friends. Children will model their behaviour after their friends, whom they spend a lot of time with in school; ask them about their day and what they did.  if your child is old enough, arrange a playdate with some of her close friends, so you can observe them at play.  If you spot any undersirable behaviour from your child or a friend of hers, you must deal with it immediatelt.  Tell her that the behaviour is rude/unkind/unacceptable.  Empower your child to stand up for her own values and beliefs.

Tip 8 teach Them to Laugh

Laughing makes people happier.  Studies have shown that people are better at copping with life's challenges when they have humour and laughter in their lives.  This also depend on your child's personality.  If your child is naturally happy and cheerful, half the battle is won.  But you still have to do your part in helping her to see things from a positive perspective.  If your child is more reserved or downright moody, there are a lot of things you can do.  The first thing is to be optimistic yourself.  The second thing is to get to know your child.  Know what makes him or her feel good.  She doesn't have to be overly enthusiastic all the time, but if you know that she likes to cuddle at bedtime, or drink ice-cold lemonade from a straw, oblige her.  It's usually the little things that kids are after.  Even the most moody kids will respond to your love and attention.