One thing that human beings across all cultures can agree on is that manners matter. While what may be considered to be “bad manners” in one culture are “good manners” in the next (like burping), proper manners show gratitude and respect for others and ourselves.
Manners are something that should be taught to kids from their earliest days, and they’re something parents and caretakers make a point of prioritising. But despite our best efforts, sometimes bad manners can creep up or come out in unexpected ways. Below are five parenting mistakes that may be behind your child’s poor behaviour:
Not leading by example
We are our children’s first role models. From their earliest days, they are watching us and seeing how we react to certain situations.
If you don’t say “please” and “thank you”, why would you expect your child to? If you don’t hold open doors for people when out and about, your child won’t either. If you display bad manners, then your children will very likely follow suit.
Making excuses for bad behaviour
Something that a lot of us have heard from parents and caretakers when kids misbehave is that “kids will be kids”. But this dismissive statement of their poor behaviour is actually doing more harm than good.
Justifying a child’s bad manners because of their age or societal status not only gives them an excuse to misbehave. It causes the parent to lower their expectations of a child rather than encourage that child to grow and better themselves.
Not saying “no”
Saying “yes” to our children is a lot easier than saying “no”. Saying “yes” means not dealing with their disappointment or, even worse, a full-blown tantrum in what may be an embarrassing public space.
Here’s the problem: saying “yes” to our child’s every desire doesn’t teach them how to deal with disappointment. They need to learn that what they want must be earned, and that they are not in control of you. For the mental and emotional health of both parents and children, it’s critical that parents step up and get comfortable with telling their children “no”.
Being overprotective of our children
We’ve all heard the term “helicopter parenting”, a phrase used to describe that parent on the playground who rushes to the side of their child after a minor fall or the parent who checks their kids’ homework and then changes an answer to help them get a better grade.
This style of parenting doesn’t properly prepare children of any age for the challenges life is undoubtedly going to throw their way. Let your kids experience problems and deal with these minor issues themselves. This builds resiliency and resourcefulness, so if they encounter the same or similar problem down the road, they’ll have the tools necessary to deal with it successfully.
Not supporting your parenting “tribe”
Another phrase we hear a lot of is that it takes a village to raise a child. Despite this well-known, and pretty accurate, statement, a lot of parents have started to dismiss or outright reject the opinions of others when they call out our children’s bad behaviour.
If another person scolds a child, it’s important that we keep our ears open and get to the root of the problem. While some scoldings from others may be unfounded, there’s a good chance that the caretaker, teacher, or another parent at the playground had a good reason for disciplining the child. If anything else, showing respect for the other person’s opinion models good behaviour for our kids.
Be consistent and behaviours will change
Have a child with bad manners? Don’t lose hope. Be consistent in your actions and expectations, and remind yourself that even the smallest of positive changes are actually major gains.