From the time a child begins to walk and talk, he is filled with intrigue and excitement. A normal trash of paper or a dish rag will catch his fancy and he will play with it, oblivious about germs and terms like cleanliness and dirty. For a child, this is a game, a toy and he will move on further.
Norms of the society dictate certain etiquettes. Whenever a child puts a comb into his mouth, the mother or nearby person will rush with a squeal and quote some lines on cleanliness and diseases. Other passive onlookers will deem it as normal although their face ex-pression spells ‘disgust’. It is essential to make a child understand little rules on hygiene and orderliness. This is to be taught at home and substantiated by practical behavior. When a child digs his nose, he is merely making himself comfortable to breathe. Gently lead the child in a room and explain that this is a personal need and he may do the same in privacy. Screaming and yelling to teach these concepts makes the child more excited to try unforbidden acts.
Toilet training is a very interesting subject. Slowly encourage the child in potty training, personal matters and importance of toilet manners. If he cannot reach the flush, operate it for him and occasionally let him turn the knob. Show him pictures of germs and how dangerous they are. Children love animated explanation, big eyes and articulate hand gestures. Tidying the place after a robust toy session or mopping the room after smearing colour on the floor is essential. If the child is too small demonstrate the same patiently. They love to help, and include them in laying the table, laundry chores and arranging the book shelf.
Table manners are better demonstrated than taught. Teach them how to use chopsticks, hygiene matters on food, dish washing and using a knife and fork. Saying grace to God is a wonderful routine. Never swear in front of children, misgivings happen in all families and keep the ranting in closed doors. Never abuse a helper or driver in front of the kids. It is perfectly fine to thank the janitor, saying ‘Please’ to the ticket checker and Sorry to your spouse. Never cross tracks, or overtake in traffic. You little policemen is watching you. If kids are into stubborn storming sessions ignore their request till they use ‘Please’ ‘Pardon’ and ‘ Excuse me’ .
Most bad manners are habit forming and learnt from peers. With exposure so high its impossible to restrain all the sources. In case, you hear your child swear or utter objectionable words or pose tricky personal queries, then be a good parent. Here spanking or a magic wand does not work. Make time with your child, hear him out, understand his frustrations. Groom a child gently and be firm occasionally.
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