One thing people always say about our kids is how polite they are. That's no accident. Manners are very important to me, they were instilled on me when I was younger. My grandmother was very old school, British, and Catholic. I remember when all 8 of us grandchildren received our own nice, thick book about etiquette. At grandma's house there were no elbows on the table, no talking with your mouth full, and everyone helped prep and clean up. All that stuck with me, and I'm being sure to pass that on.
At the dinner table there are rules. We always sit down as a family, we, Lori and I, put away our phones, and the boys are not allowed toys at the table. We sit and we talk. We talk about our day, "How was work?", "How was dayhome?", etc.
As a kid, even with both my parents owning their own businesses, school, summer jobs, sports, we always sat as a family and ate dinner together. Even if it was a quick meal between some of those things, it was together. Dinner is usually the only time of day when most families will be together. It's hard, but it is very important. It builds manners, conversation skills, patience, courtesy for others, sharing.
Nobody gets anything without a please and a thank you. Nobody leaves the table until we are all done eating. Nobody gets down from the table until they ask politely. "Please daddy I get down?". Once they are down they take their dishes to the sink, and they wash their hands. DOn't get me wrong, it has taken time, and there are still times when they will run off, but every time they are forced to come back, climb back on their chairs and ask politely.
Repetition is the mother of mastery. Dishes go in the sink, what stems from that? Anytime they finish a snack, be it a plate or a wrapper, it goes in the sink (as the garbage has a child lock on it). At bath time clothes go in the laundry hamper. Shoes go in the shoe box. Toys go in the toy box. So on. Teaching them to clean up after themselves now will only help us, and them, in the future.
Same with Please & Thank yous, they start at the table and are expected at any other time. They want a snack, if they ask without a please I will stare at them, or ask them to say it again. They want to watch a show, go outside, play in their pool, anything. Permission and please & thanks yous. Usually on the third or fourth time they will remember the magic word. They have started to catch on, sometimes they'll say please the first or second time now.
Be diligent, for there is nothing more important than manners. Have you ever been out and watched someone, a grown adult, ask for something without a please? Have you seen the disdain in the server's face? Or yourself felt uneasy about it? Bad manners are one of the biggest things that turns me off of a person more than anything. I don't want anyone to feel that way about my kids, whether it be other kids or adults.
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