How do you teach a preschooler manners besides constant reminders and being courteous yourself?
Graciously speaking and actions toward others to show your respect towards them and show you value them (The Virtue Project).
Going back to a previous post which I briefly discussed a useful article from the New York Times entitled “Raising A Moral Child,” which focuses, in my opinion, on raising an altruistic and caring child. After rereading the article, I found very useful points about instilling courtesy in a child:
- Praising effort is more effective than praising ability.
- Compliment behavior, not the child.
- Praising character is also effective–“being a helper.”
Actions speak louder than words — from parent to the child– child learn from parents’ actions more than their words.
- Parents reactions and disciplinary means makes a huge difference: “…Praise in response to good behavior may be half the battle, but our responses to bad behavior have consequences, too. When children cause harm, they typically feel one of two moral emotions: shame or guilt. Despite the common belief that these emotions are interchangeable,research led by the psychologist June Price Tangney reveals that they have very different causes and consequences.
Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing. Shame is a negative judgment about the core self, which is devastating: Shame makes children feel small and worthless, and they respond either by lashing out at the target or escaping the situation altogether. In contrast, guilt is a negative judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behavior. When children feel guilt, they tend to experience remorse and regret, empathize with the person they have harmed, and aim to make it right.
In one study spearheaded by the psychologist Karen Caplovitz Barrett, parents rated their toddlers’ tendencies to experience shame and guilt at home. The toddlers received a rag doll, and the leg fell off while they were playing with it alone. The shame-prone toddlers avoided the researcher and did not volunteer that they broke the doll. The guilt-prone toddlers were more likely to fix the doll, approach the experimenter, and explain what happened. The ashamed toddlers were avoiders; the guilty toddlers were amenders.
If we want our children to care about others, we need to teach them to feel guilt rather than shame when they misbehave. In a review of research on emotions and moral development, the psychologist Nancy Eisenberg suggests that shame emerges when parents express anger, withdraw their love, or try to assert their power through threats of punishment: Children may begin to believe that they are bad people. Fearing this effect, some parents fail to exercise discipline at all, which can hinder the development of strong moral standards….”
- Expressing disappointment is most effective in responding to bad or unwanted behavior, then explain why it was wrong; how it affects others; and how they can rectify the situation themselves.
Again, actions speak louder than words–parents must model the behavior too!
What I find rather, I think the word is, ironic is that my Mother-in-law told me about most of these aspects. I asked her about how she dealt with my Husband as a child hoping to maybe do the same with my son and his behavior issues. She specifically stated #6 though I doubt this article was around in the late 1980s.
She also informed me how when little ones interrupt their parents, that it is the most important thing that moment and they must share it with that parent. She recommended that, for example, if I am on the phone and my son interrupts I should:
- Explain why I need to talk and that I will talk to them A.S.A.P.
- Try to actually get off the phone quickly, if possible.
- Have the child wait right there with you, which shows that the parent finds what the little one has to say is important.
- Once off the phone, ask “Tell me what is important to you” and listen, then resolve, if necessary.
- Finally, talk to them about interruptions and waiting.
Another disciplinary recommendation she made is for when my little one is being bothersome and/or in your face:
- Remember that it is a way to get your attention.
- They are usually bored and they do not necessarily know how to handle it–they may feel out of place and/or struggle with this idea.
- They need to find something else to do to entertain them and they are asking for your help.
These are just things I never thought about or realize that it is what my little one is or is not saying, but I realized is very true. It is fascinating that this understanding of our children at such a young age is showing to be consistent through the decades and it is most helpful.
I hope this was helpful for you. It was very much for me. Please feel free to leave a comment on the post or use the Contact Me Page. I look forward hearing from you all, dearest Readers.