When your child is invited to someone’s house, you can’t just expect her to behave as if she were at your home. This could possibly mean demanding to get her way, rejecting food she doesn’t like, or even ignoring the adults in the house. You’ll have to teach her the proper way to behave when she’s a guest in someone else’s home.
According to child psychologist Sabrina Tan, Ph.D., manners are part of good social skills which “build the foundation for children to develop friendships and engage in successful, positive interactions with others.” A child who knows how to socialize well and has proper etiquette will know how to “share his toys and play fairly with others,” explains Dr. Tan. “Moreover, good social skills elicit good feedback from others, so the child may receive praise and compliments, or experience the positive returns of healthy, happy relationships and interactions with others. In the long run, good social skills will greatly contribute to the child’s overall success [in life].”
Lessons in manners Etiquette expert Lia Bernardo says the best way to teach proper manners is by example. “You need to practice proper manners at all times,” she explains. “Manners do not get turned on and off just because there are non-family members in the room. A child needs to be taught manners through practice and everyday deeds so he will naturally grow up being considerate of others. Generosity and consideration towards others really stem from how the children are treated at home.”
Dr. Tan adds that you can also actively teach manners. “You need to spell it out for some children. You can use direct instruction by giving examples through stories or by reminding children of the appropriate manners or social skills as the situation is unfolding.”
Manners have to begin at home, says Christian So, dad to Micky, 6, and Becca, 2. “Even before my daughters visit someone’s house, we set boundaries at home,” he says. “For example, they know what they can and cannot touch, which drawers they’re not allowed to open or need permission to do so.” This way, when his daughters visit other homes, they already know how to behave.
Lillian Urbina, mom to Enrico, 16, Zach, 10, and Chris, 5, is strict when it comes to teaching manners. “When I say something, I always follow through,” she says. “Following through is key to making sure your children learn manners and good graces.”