Teaching Manners: More Than Please and Thank You

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a little old fashioned, but I believe in manners. When is the right time to teach them to children?

A: In the early stages of parenthood, we don’t care much about manners. Our infant’s loud burps (and other bodily sounds) usually elicit laughter, and as kids learn to speak, we consider their inadvertent insults or seemingly rude behavior rather adorable. But as children get into preschool and start having playdates and doing the birthday party circuit, manners become increasingly important.

Unfortunately, teaching manners isn’t easy. If preschoolers could draw a picture of the universe, they’d put themselves at the very center. They want to be first, best, strongest, and they want everyone around them to notice. They couldn’t care less about anyone else’s needs.

You’ve probably already started teaching your child manners. When he wants more green beans (okay, white rice), you prompt him to say “please.” And when she receives a present, you encourage her by asking, “What do you say to Grandma?” While “please” and “thank you” are a great start, teaching manners is about instilling good behavior in a variety of situations. Here’s how to do it:


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Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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