The words manners and fun are rarely found in the same sentence. When you think of manners you often think of being yelled at to chew with your mouth closed, sit still, or keep your elbows off the table. While this method may be effective…it may not make for happy family meals (and lets face it, when you all finally sit down to dinner together, who wants to spend that little bit of together time yelling at each other).
Early on with our daughter we discovered a way to effectively teach her manners without having to yell or constantly reprimand. Princesses were her obsession, so we played on this. We talked to her about how a princess would act. We asked her if she wanted to be like a princess. When she replied that she did want to be like a princess, we proceeded to teach her how a princess acted (aka…good manners). In church, when our daughter wanted to sit all sprawled out in her dress, we reminded her how a princess would sit. At the dinner table, when she wanted to talk with her mouth full of food, we reminded her that a princess would never talk while she had food in her mouth.
Now you may be saying…that is great, but I have only boys, and they don’t really want to be a princess (or even a prince, knight or king, for that matter). The key is finding what they do like. If it is Thomas the Tank Engine, play on the fact that to be a really useful boy (or engine, whatever he wants) he needs to act a certain way. If their obsession is with super heroes, tell them that heroes don’t only have super powers, but super manners too.
Finding what your child likes and turning manners into something fun and positive will help the process of learning how to act much easier on parent and child, and dinner time may just end up being a much nicer experience. Just be ready for a dinner party full of princesses, super heroes and really useful engines.
Posted by Christine of Random Thoughts With Chris