Have you ever encountered a rude adult and wondered why they are the way they are? How they were raised by their parents often comes to mind. While maturity develops over time, manners can be taught the same way, with consistency and patience.
As parents, consistently encouraging politeness and respect is one of the things that come naturally. It’s easy to think of ways to teach kids to be respectful, but sometimes certain actions teach them the opposite.
Here are some things to stop doing so that your child won’t grow up to be ill mannered.
1. Stop being afraid of them
If your child becomes demanding and you panic just to fulfill their request, this may be sending the wrong message. Kids may get used to the idea of using crying or throwing a fit as a way to manipulate. While indulging them is part of the way parents show they care, it’s important not to overdo it.
According to Dr. Susan Newman, the first step to changing unhealthy patterns is to ask yourself if you’re spoiling your kid by giving them “unearned privileges.” This happens when you give in to their every whim, for example, to gain their approval or make up for things you didn’t experience in your own childhood. Try to help them learn about the difference between a “want” and a “need.”
2. Stop making excuses for them
Keep yourself from downplaying bad behavior. Don’t justify their tantrums by saying things like “that’s just how children are” because this will inadvertently encourage them to continue this pattern of behavior.
Parenting Coach Lisa Bunnage cautions parents that the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be to stop excusing your kid’s poor manners. She shares that her form of discipline is coupled with love—prioritizing rules, manners, and chores while tweaking it based on her kid’s needs.
“Remember to meet their needs and manage their wants,” she writes on Brat Busters.
3. Stop cautioning others not to scold them
Back in the day, it was normal for teachers and non-relative elders to scold kids, but now it’s widely frowned upon. Many moms prefer to focus on their own child while refraining to discipline someone else’s.
It’s important to be open to others disciplining your child—within reason. For instance, if your child’s teacher catches him misbehaving, she can’t very well let it slide. So long as you open the lines of communication with your kid’s teacher, she can be your helper in making sure your child is respectful and well behaved in school and at home.
4. Stop spoiling them
Dr. Jim Taylor suggests assessing what you’re teaching them daily. Are you helping them achieve the necessary “attitudes and skillsets” to be a functioning adult with healthy habits? When it comes to money, for instance, his advice is to ask yourself if you’re teaching them the value of respect, discipline, responsibility, and delayed gratification, which are traits that can’t be developed if you keep on giving them what they want.
5. Stop giving them shortcuts
No parent wants their kid to have a difficult time, but there is some merit to letting them work for things. A simple example would be when you’re at a restaurant and they start to get antsy, don’t just thrust an iPad in their faces so they can while away the time and leave you in peace.
Teach them to be patient and find ways to amuse themselves without the help of a gadget.
Another way to instill the value of hard work would be to require them to do chores even if you have household helpers. Teacher and dad of three Andrew Andestic says parents should encourage their kids to dream, but to emphasize that ambition is nothing without hard work.
Believing in kids while being honest with them, assuring them that you’ll always be there for them, will inspire confidence and compliance, not out of obligation but out of deep respect, which is the root of genuinely good and lasting manners.
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