30 days of thankfulness was something I saw on various social networking sites all month long. As I looked at our blog and the social network sites (and then the upcoming topic for December) I took a pause and wondered… Did the 30 days of thankfulness create a habit? Does our modeling of manners and respect create habits that stick with our children? With ourselves? Is my grammar really poor in these sentences? (Oops I digress)
And that’s where my mind stuck…. Habits. Aren’t we essentially trying teach our children positive social habits when it comes to manners, empathy, respect and even thankfulness? Habits. Seems like such a negative word sometimes because we often focus on ‘bad habits’. But what if we stopped and thought about our good habits. The ones we hope our children turn into their own?
Play along with me —
What are some of your good habits?
First we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. Everyone is on their best behavior and we return home with full tummies and counting our blessings. Then comes Black Friday! The news will be filled with reports of people pushing and shoving and fighting – all in the name of buying gifts for the holidays. Am I the only one who sees the disconnect?
So parents, think about what you are teaching your children – both in words and actions. The simple niceties – waiting your turn, saying please and thank you, letting someone else go first, being patient, having a sense of humor – are good manners. They are also ways we show respect to other people. And these people are not just our family and friends. The respect is also extended to the tired clerk, the overwrought young mother, the waiter working extended hours, and the mall police person. If we stop and think for just a minute we can empathize what it is like to be in their shoes. We can appreciate the work they are doing and how it impacts our lives.
During the craziness that can bubble over this holiday season, lead by example. A smile and a kind word will make everyone feel better. And while you’re teaching your children, you are also teaching other adults that manners, empathy, and respect are important in a civilized society.
Empathy is the ability to understand the world from another person’s point of view. Empathy can also create motivation to treat another kindly based on that understanding.
Feelings Flashcards: Make flash cards with a photo or drawing showing different emotions such as happy and sad or scared and mad. Even three and four year olds can identify a range of emotions. Point out the different feelings and talk about them.
Share stories and personal experiences: share stories about times when you had similar feelings and let the children share back.
Puppets: Children are drawn to puppets and many lessons can be taught by them. Have puppets display different emotions and talk with children about them.
Share how you have seen empathy impact children’s relationships and friendships.
Several major holidays are just around the corner. Many people will attend family gatherings that usually include food. Or in the case of Thanksgiving – the holiday seems to revolve around the food. So are you a little nervous that your kids who eat way too many meals on the run may not know how to behave at the table? Is it time for a quick lesson on table manners?
A few gentle reminders at the breakfast table, in the car on the way to school, or as you’re fixing the evening meal, can do the trick. We aren’t trying to turn the kids into walking advertisements for Emily Post. But we are attempting to teach a few basics that will help relieve some of the stress for everyone when kids are placed in social settings.
Here’s the list I used with our girls.
- Ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes. Don’t reach across two people to get the bowl.
- Chew with your mouth closed. Save the gross “look at me” games for home.
- Eat and then talk. It’s hard for Aunt Tina to understand you with your mouth full of green beans.
- Try, try, try to sit up in your chair and keep your elbows off the table. We used to sing a song about this because everyone forgets.
- Compliment the cook on something you like (can’t get enough of the noodles) and keep quiet about Uncle Rob’s dressing you couldn’t make me eat.
- Say “please” and “thank you.” This will get you big points for being well mannered.
So what’s the point of all this? In the podcast Lori talked about how manners are a way for society to keep things pleasant. Observing basic table manners will make meals go more smoothly. When children, and adults, use their manners they are showing respect for the people gathered around the table.
What table manners do you teach your kids?
Teach children manners and they’re more likely to grow up to be respectful and develop empathy for others. Join us in Novembas we focus on offering tips to helg children learn manners and how they connection to respect and empathy.
Listen to the Podcast here: Teaching Manners Leads to Respect, Empathy
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