You’re probably thinking you’ve got good manners down pat; after all, you never forget to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. But it’s important to consider what having good manners actually means, particularly in the context of parenting, so that you can be sure you truly are leading by example. To this end, Knight says parents should keep in mind that mutual respect is key, and that “manners are a way to communicate this respect, teach kindness and friendliness, and offer children a way to learn healthy connections with others.”
The reality is that this intention is too often lost in the teaching process and, rather than modeling good manners, many parents find themselves reacting with threats, bribes and yelling to their child’s behavior. “This reactive parenting approach is harmful in many ways and negates the manners that a parent is trying to instill in their child,” cautions Knight. In other words, you can’t just bully your kid into being polite. However, once you do the hard work of checking your own behavior and taking accountability when you’ve made a mistake, you’ll be in a much better position to teach your kid the importance of being respectful.