Wednesday, November 4

My daily struggle with teaching manners

I must admit that this is a difficult topic to talk about because I feel so very inadequate when it comes to teaching my girls manners. It has been encouraging to read Barb’s comments the last two days to be reminded that it is a long process, but with children the ages of 8 and 3 you would think I would have it down right? Wrong! It’s not for a lack of trying on my part, but I just feel like the whole world is against me. I really feel like I am swimming up stream in this area because most people do not emphasize good manners or give my children a pass instead of reinforcing those good behaviors. For instance I do not want my children climbing all over my furniture and I expect them to do the same at other people’s homes. But often we go somewhere and the other children are climbing and jumping all over the furniture so inevitably my girls join in. Then I am left undoing everything that just happened in the car on the way home. It doesn’t make sense to them why they can’t so something if other kids can. It just seems like I am in it alone at times.

We started both girls very young to use sign language for many things they could not ask for. Please and thank you were at the top of our list. We actually still communicate at times with them using these signs. It is a great way to quietly remind them to say thank you to someone without embarrassing them by saying something out loud. I guess I am just amazed at how often we still need to remind them to say please and thank you!

We also decided early on that we wanted them to be respectful to their elders so we started by calling people Miss or Mr. and then their first names. We felt saying last names were pretty hard for a two year old so we went with Miss Heidi or Miss Stacy. As Abigail is getting older we are transitioning to last names more often than not. Either way I like the form of respect it conveys to the grown up, and I think it is helpful in teaching our girls there is a difference between those who are older and themselves.

I think the manners I am struggling with most right now are their manners at the table. If any of you have school-age children and join them for lunch, you will be able to relate to this story. The other day I sat in horror as my 8-year-old daughter was literally shoving her pear into her mouth as fast as she could, slurping every bite…pear dripping down her chin, as she continually looked up at the clock to see if she would have time to eat her pickle that was left on her plate. Having only 15 minutes to get your lunch down is not conducive to good manners, but this was unbelievable. But could I really blame her? She is starving (because she eats lunch so late) and she has a limited time to eat that lunch. Again, I feel like I need to undo what she is learning at lunchtime everyday.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that teaching manners as well as values in general would be so difficult. Isn’t that what good parenting is all about? Isn’t it about putting in the work day after day holding onto the fact that it will pay off down the road? Or at least that you are doing your job of being the best parent you can be-trying to give your children the best possible foundation to succeed? I guess I am just in that spot where I feel like I am in an up-hill battle. . . but I do know it is worth the fight. Please be encouraged today that you are not alone!


Katy Keeler said...

Betsy (Hi! So happy to rediscover the HwH blog!!), this topic has really been on my mind lately too! And I have a 12 year old and a 10 year old who 'should' know better! I recently stumbled upon a fun idea & I thought I'd share it with you. :) "Mom" keeps a small pink pig by her plate at meals. If someone makes a manners 'goof', the pig is placed at their place setting (no verbal reprimanding is necessary). The pig stays there until/unless it can be passed to someone else making a manners 'goof'. Whoever has the pig at the end of the meal does the dishes (or ??). I'm still looking for a toy pig I like enough to keep at the table, but I told my children about this and could NOT believe how their manners improved from hearing about it alone! The writer shared that the pig almost never had to be used after the first few meals, and that she keeps it now as a special memento. :)

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