After discussing busyness last week, this next topic follows a natural progression....taking time to proactively teach habits to your children is much more efficient than chasing after them correcting bad behaviors! When we are too busy, we often skip over much of this groundwork, but it is so important.
In order to have polite children, we must expect and practice COURTESY regularly in our homes! There really is no other way to ingrain this personality trait. As parents, it is imperative to model courteous behavior in front of them. We must also demand it from our children as they interact with their siblings. You cannot expect a child to act however they like at home, then put on manners when they are out in public. Manners and courtesy must be practiced often to become second nature - a way of life.
Often as parents, we are guilty of giving our children lists of chores and expecting their help regularly (and rightfully so) without ever showing them some gratitude. Everyone enjoys being appreciated for their efforts and hard work, and children are no exception. When someone feels appreciated, they will happily work harder and do more out of a willing heart.
I have found that when I demonstrate courtesy by thanking my children for their contributions to our household, through chores, that they feel more like a part of a team than just 'slave labor'. Of course, children's behavior mirrors their parents, so when I show gratitude they begin to do it more frequently as well.
Another way children can be taught to show courtesy is by writing thank you notes to each other for gifts received. After Christmas or birthdays, provide dollar store thank you cards, or allow the children to make their own, and write them to each other. Not only is it great writing practice, but it establishes some common rules of courtesy in the family. As parents, we write them to our children as well when they give us gifts.
Using manners at all times in the home will make them second nature to your children when they are out. If they are constantly hearing 'please', 'thank you', 'you're welcome', 'excuse me', and other common phrases, they will begin using those phrases often, sometimes with a little prodding as needed.
Setting high expectations for common courtesy will create a respectful atmosphere in the home, where the family members treat each other well and there is peace and harmony.
The Bible tells us in Psalms 133:1 "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
It is not unrealistic to think that siblings can get along in a pleasant and courteous way, but it will take effort on the part of the parents to establish those expectations, and to correct behavior that quickly spirals into bickering and fighting. Things will not always be harmonious, but let a pleasant and courteous atmosphere be the goal that the family is constantly striving for! It will be pleasing to God, and help to make courtesy common in the lives of your children.
In our world today, common courtesy is a lost art - no longer common! Let's do our part to change that in our small corner of the world.
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