“What are the magic words?” Do you remember an adult in your life reminding you to say “please” and “thank you” when you were young? Those magic words go a long way in befriending other people.
Having good manners shows others that you see them, care about them, and appreciate what they are doing. Manners are all about respect. “Thank you for the present, Grandma.” “ Sorry, I didn’t mean to be so loud.” “Can you please pass the butter?”
It would be great if our kids were born knowing how to speak politely, but young children have a very small view of the world with themselves at the center. It takes years for children to develop the maturity to think of how their actions are affecting others and to care about other people’s feelings.
The best way to teach your children manners is by your own example, and by giving them the words to say when occasions arise. Reading some of these books about being polite will help too, as you both see what makes each story’s characters have good or bad manners.
“Mr. Wolf and the Three Bears” by Jan Fearnley. Mr. Wolf plans a big party for Baby Bear’s birthday with cake, sandwiches, biscuits, and Huff Puff Cakes (all recipes are included in the book). It’s lovely, until someone crashes the party. Enter Goldilocks! She budges, pushes, is messy, and inconsiderate. Goldilocks cheats at games and is just plain rude! How can Mr. Wolf save the party?
“Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer. This is a kid-friendly dictionary of some choice words that are good to know when learning how to be polite. Each word is illustrated and described in ways children will understand such as, “Greedy means taking all the cookies for myself. –Hee, hee, hee. Yum, yum, yum. Generous means offering some to others. –Please take one. You too. Anyone else want a cookie?”
“How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. First we see how sloppy and careless dinosaurs can be at the table; then we see all the ways that dinosaurs can be very neat and polite when eating. You may see your own little dinosaur in the pages of this book!
“The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!” by Mo Willems. The Pigeon character that stars in many of Willems’ books isn’t in the title, but is featured in this book as the hungry, curious, and frustrated onlooker. How does Duckling get a cookie, just by asking? (Clue: it has something to do with the magic word!)