As a parent, it is important for you to teach your child how to behave properly in certain places and situations. But as with any challenge, this is easier said than done. Before you start telling your tot how to act a certain way, keep in mind that he is, after all, just a child who will react in a way that is natural to him. Maria Theresa Ujano-Batangan, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Department of Psychology in UP Diliman explains, “Children will never behave as adults. You must contextualize their ability to fulfill societal expectations in their capacity to understand the bases for such ‘rules’ and the consistency of these ‘rules’ to their own values.” Myla Lee-Tolentino, who holds a master’s degree in Family Life and Child Development from UP Diliman and is the school directress of the Pail and Shovel Integrated School in Quezon City, adds, “Instructions given to a child must be developmentally appropriate. Keeping in mind that they are not adults will lead to the success of instilling good manners. This will also give them a preview of how the rest of the world will treat them.”
Observe and listen to your child’s unique perspective, and it will give you a better grasp of what the experience is like for him, especially if he will be going through it for the first time.
Riza Ng, M.A., a staff psychologist at the MLAC Institute for Children and Families at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan, stresses the importance of managing expectations with your child. “Orient him on what to expect—be it large crowds, a high or low level of noise, or the need to remain seated or lined up.” It will also help if you explain to your child that every action results in certain consequences that affect those around him. Lee-Tolentino says, “Parents should tell their children that there is a right time and place for everything. Let them know that their behavior results into something by offering a simple explanation.”
Understand your child well and learn how to communicate effectively with him. Ng suggests that parents share “teachable moments” with their child, to explain situations such as going to the movies or theater, attending mass or going to a wake or funeral, “when the children themselves are curious enough to ask.” “Parents can practice with the child at home, using pictures from magazines or clips from television shows. You can even bring your tot to similar places to observe how other people conduct themselves in these given situations. Encourage the children to be inquisitive while at home, so they won’t cause much disturbance when they are already at these places.”
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