As a mom of all boys, I feel the weight of the challenge of raising gentlemen. It is my job is to shape these little boys into future husbands and fathers. Teaching manners is probably the most repetitive task we have as parents. Kids aren’t born knowing how to politely interact with others. It is our duty as parents to teach them those social skills. I know plenty of adults that wouldn’t earn a gold star from Emily Post. So, I do not expect that my youngsters are perfect in the manners department. However, that’s doesn’t mean we are lacks on manners in our house. I remind them daily that good things often come from using good manners.
We are all going to have those moments that we feel like our kids have never absorbed a single lesson in manners, but then there are those beautiful moments where you catch them doing something GREAT. When they finally demonstrate that they actually heard my reminders and use good manners without being prompted, I beam with pride.
My husband and I have created standards in our home in order to work towards the ultimate goal of raising boys that are respectful, thoughtful and kind. Here are some of the values we hold high in our house.
Hold the door for the person behind you…
…especially if it’s a lady. We’re in the South y’all, and holding the door for the person behind you is a must for our boys. It’s not only polite, but it teaches kids to be aware of others.
We play sports
Playing sports can teach commitment, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
We use good table manners
If our boys aren’t polite at the table, they are excused from the table. They can try again once they’re ready to return to the table with their manners. We ask our kids to wait until everyone is seated before they begin eating. My kids do not have to finish everything on their plate. They don’t even have to try it. But they are reminded that the only polite response to a plate of food in front of them is, “thank you.”
My kids do chores…
and we don’t pay them for it. In our house, everyone helps out. As toddlers, we include them in sorting laundry, sweeping, and vacuuming. They help in our garden by watering and pulling weeds. We introduce age appropriate chores such as putting your cups and plates in the sink after mealtimes, and eventually rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher. Our five year old is now able to help load and unload the dishwasher.
We do piggy banks
We start piggy banks with our boys at age 3, and are rewarded with a quarter for behaviors beyond the normal expected manners. This helps to teach them about the value of money and goal setting. When my oldest set his first piggy bank goal, he saved up for an airplane from the Disney store. I’ll never forget the pride on his face when he took his baggie full of quarters into the Disney store and paid for his new toy from money he earned.
We write thank you notes
My kids know, if you don’t write a thank you note, you don’t get to play with the gift. Starting on their 2nd birthday, I include them in thank you notes. At 2, they can scribble with a crayon on my written note, and I explain to them the importances of being grateful for gifts. At age 5, my son is able to write short thank you notes with little assistance.
We pay it forward
We help others and leave things better than we found them. My husband and I try to lead by example in this area, and include the boys in this as much as possible. We want them to see us helping our family and friends, and help them find opportunities to do the same.
An apology is not complete without explaining WHY they are sorry. By adding this to an apology, we help them find empathy.