Teaching manners to children naturally
Teaching children Social Norms is a critical part of the Montessori Method of Education.
Socialisation is central to the values, behaviour and beliefs we hold as adults. It encompasses how one acts as a member of a smaller group within the larger society. Many of these norms are important in nurturing a society in which human beings treat one another with kindness and respect.
When children start growing out of the toddler age, they start to acquire language, express themselves and communicate meaningfully. From three years, they are capable of much more than is traditionally expected of them in their behaviour.
Teaching them social norms from this early age is very important. It gives immediate satisfaction of good behaviour in the children and also guides them into the next stage of the self-construction of the future adults they will become who will fit effectively into the larger society.
Unfortunately, in the fast-paced world we live in now, parents feel too busy, stressed out, impatient and intolerant to teach their children the social norms the children need so much. They seem to have left that to schools alone. They expect their children to have good manners because they attend an expensive school. However, parents are the most powerful teachers of social norms to their children.
Here are a few reminders to parents about teaching manners to their children naturally:
Correcting is not the same as modelling!
Children are naturally active and exuberant. This can make them act in ways that could, sometimes, annoy and embarrass their parents. The natural reaction of the parents is to correct the child. This correction can embarrass and shame the child and would not bring the desired change of behaviour in the child.
A better way than correction is to show the child how to behave in a similar situation.
Demonstrating the desired behaviour you want the child to learn is the real lesson in teaching manners. As the child’s parents, you have to behave in the same way you want your child to behave so the child will naturally copy your behaviour.
For instance, Sam is a four-year-old child who behaved and spoke rudely to his nanny. To request for some water to drink, he shouted at the nanny,
‘Give me water!’ And when the nanny brought the water, Sam snatched the glass of water and gulped it down.
To teach Sam a better way of behaving in this situation, his mother asked the nanny for some water in Sam’s presence in order to model a better behaviour to him.
She said, ‘Miss Tayo, please give me a glass of water.’ When the nanny brought the glass of water, she collected it gently and politely said: ‘Thank you, Miss Tayo.’
By doing this in Sam’s presence and to his hearing, his mum demonstrated the behaviour she wanted her child, Sam, to have. Sam’s parents should continue to model this positive behaviour in everything they do and say, using every opportunity that comes up so that Sam would naturally learn that having good manners is the right way to behave.
Young children love and learn from their parents easily
Children love their parents very much. They want to be near their parents at all times, watch them; ask them questions; demand answers; tell them stories; learn from them; do whatever the parents do and speak the way they hear them speak. Children want to be like their parents and be loved by them. It is, therefore, very easy to encourage good manners or, indeed, bad manners in the children during this early stage in life.
Parents must make the choice to be present in their children’s lives and be intentional in teaching them good manners from their early years. The children see and hear much more than you think and they soak everything up. They will then demonstrate this in their own behaviour as they imitate their parents, naturally. Parents who want their children to have good manners must be prepared to consistently model good manners to them.
Having good manners and being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any university degree.
On this note, we are pleased to bring you another issue of your favourite Montessori magazine – Neo-Montessori Life (NML). This issue of the NML is filled with diverse articles that are all aimed at equipping you so you can help and guide children to construct the successful adult they will become in the future.