Monday, January 17, 2011

Teaching Wild Ones Manners

You have to admit, there are huge problems these days with people lacking in manners.  I can’t believe the rudeness, pushiness, crudeness and vulgarity going on there.   Gone are the days when most people say “excuse me” when getting through a crowd or walking in front of someone looking at items on a shelf in the store.  I don’t think someone under the age of 50 has opened a door for me… like ever.  Even being hugely pregnant and sporting a kid in each hand, people are just plain inconsiderate.  It makes me really sad.
And it makes me even more determined to teach my boys how to be real gentlemen.  The world needs more men with manners!

It’s been about a year now since people started commenting on the good manners my boys have.  But it wasn’t always this way.  With my 5 year olds limited speech/ language and understanding, and my 3 year old always following his lead, things got pretty crazy most of the time I took them out in public.  But I was persistent, these were important lessons to learn, and guess what?  It eventually paid off, because now, my boys are full of “please”s, “thank you”s, and “excuse me”s.
Here are a few of my tips to help bridle in the wildest of boys and teach them some manners:

Tip #1:  Be persistent
There are going to be bad days -- lots of bad days.  But once you make the decision to teach your kids to be real human beings, you really have to stick to it.  No wishy-washy behavior on your part… if you let them get away with something, you have lost good ground.   Stick to your guns!

Tip #2:  “No” is not a swear word
So use it!  “No” means “no.”  And don’t for one second even think of giving in, because you need to be tough and let your kids know at a young age that once the Queen Mama has spoken, that’s it.  “No” does not mean maybe… and don’t you dare let them think it does.  There will be lots of whining and complaining, many tantrums, and other forms of protest – but don’t give in.  Let them beg until they are blue in the face – I actually used to hold my breath as a kid when my mom said “no”.  She let me do it until I passed out and taught myself that wasn’t a good idea.  They’ll get it eventually and stop arguing for the most part once you say “no.”  Because that’s it – end of story.

Tip #3:  Take your kiddos out in public often
Practice makes perfect!  Don’t you worry about taking them to sit down restaurants, shopping stores, the library, etc. – even if your kid is a brat in public – trust me, I have been there!  They need to learn how to act in these places and if you are afraid to take them there, they just won’t learn what is required of them.  There will be times when you will have to leave with them – go sit in the car for a cool down time out.  And it will be embarrassing at times.  Because of my oldest’s special needs he would throw out of control tantrums when he couldn’t have his own way.  I am talking complete melt downs!  Sometimes it would make cry in embarrassment!  One time, he was so out of it he was getting violent in a Wal-Mart cart and I couldn’t get him to calm down.  Everyone was looking at me.  All I could think of to do was swat his bum to get his attention – not too hard, but enough to get him to snap out of it.  A group of elderly people started cheering, one even said, “It’s about time!”  And my 3 year old at the time, snapped out of it and was able to calm down.

Tip #4:  Don’t be afraid to use appropriate discipline in public
I’m not saying you should open a can of whoop on your little guy in the middle of the library, but a small bum swat, time out, or “That’s it!  We’re leaving!” is alright.  We live in a day and age where we think everyone is going to call social services on us if we put one toe out of line.  We think everyone is watching us, judging us, measuring our parenting skills.  Truth is, most people are thinking what a wuss you are for not doing anything or giving in to your child’s demands.  I’ve taken my boys out of the store mid-shopping for throwing fits, or pulled them out of church or the library and we don’t go back… at least that same day.  I want them to know that if they act that way, they lose privileges.  Don’t be afraid of putting stuff back on the shelves, either… this really gets their juices going!!  I’ve only had to do this once, and now all I have to do is threaten to put something back and they calm down.

Tip #5:  Never Lie!
When you tell them something or make a threat, STICK TO IT!  Only say things that are possible so that you can follow through.  Don’t say:  “If you don’t get your butt back here right now I am going to string you up by your toenails!!”  First off, I don’t think I have ever seen a parent actually do this.  Not a credible threat, and guess what?  Even your toddler knows there is no way you are going to follow through on that threat.  Instead try this one:  “If you don’t come back here and stay by the cart, I am going to put these fruit snacks back!”  And if they don’t, you march right over and put those yummy treats back.  Your kid is going to freak, and learn that you don’t lie.

Tip #6:  Bodily Functions are not funny
Okay, sometimes they are… and that’s the problem.  You’re little guy is just waiting for you to laugh and give him permission to show off what he can make his body do.  I have issues with smells and boogers and gross noises, and I don’t want my kids to think it is all right to be crude… because it isn’t.  So we taught our boys early on that that stuff isn’t funny.  You just do it as discreetly as possible and then say “excuse me”.  We still fight the booger eating with our oldest, but we got past the burp and fart phase with flying colors.  Also it’s important to teach our little guys to cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing – there’s nothing worse than walking around the grocery store and there’s some kid hanging out a cart with green snot sneezing and coughing all over the place.  Makes me want to whip out my can of Lysol and disinfect us all.

Tip #7:  Talk to your child
Kids understand more than we think they do.  Don’t down talk them like babies.  It always makes me cringe when I see mom’s talking to their 5 or 6 year olds like they are 2.  They are little people who understand.  And if they don’t the first time, reword what you are saying until you see that little light bulb go off in their eyes.   Just keep trying and use a language they understand – my speech/ language impaired boy is very visual, so I use a lot of examples and hands on stuff to explain things to him.  But kids can ultimately be reasoned with if you are willing to work on it.

Tip #8:  Be an example
Ultimately, practice what you preach.  You want your kid to have good manners?  Work on your own.  Treat people kindly and with respect and your kids will learn more by what they see you do than anything else.  You are their hero, and they want to be just like you.  So BE what you would like them to be and you’ll be surprised!


Disclaimer: All children are different and my ways may not be your ways. But I would love to hear some of your tips!!


Jenifer said...

Thanks for this post. I am blown away daily at the rudeness of people. I get compliments on my girls daily. At least I did something right.

Carrie and Karl said...

I enjoyed this post. I have two comments. The first is that I did an internship at the Department of Child and Family Services last semester. While there I learned that it is totally ok to spank your child. The important thing is that it should only used as discipline. Dcfs won't take away your kids for spanking them when they act out.
The second comment is: positive reinforcement. When your kids do a good job, make sure they know that you noticed and are happy about it. Children need all the positive they can get.

Mama Nut said...

So true, Carrie! I can't believe I forgot to mention positive feedback!! Little guys/ girls live for those moments when Mommy and Daddy are really pleased... makes their whole day!!

Anonymous said...

My 3 year old has amazing manners but my 8 year old must have lost them at Busch Gardens this year. We're working on it. Great post!

Rachelle said...

I stumbled upon your blog and loved reading it so far! I have to agree with you 100% with your tips/rules. I'm a social worker and everyone assumes I'm going to take their kids away for spanking them or following through with a "threat". I don't have any kids of my own yet, but I have 3 nieces and 1 nephew. My siblings are all threat and no action, so the kids walk all over them. When those kids get with me, they all know I mean business. I've carried my 4 year old niece out of wal-mart kicking and screaming several times. It is extremely embarrassing, but it works and she gets the point. If only we could get more parents to understand the simple things that you mentioned and this world could be a lot more peaceful!