The Method For Teaching Children Manners
I recently observed a little boy demonstrating poor table manners. He reached across the table for something without asking the person near the item to pass it to him.
His grandmother sternly, almost menacingly said, “You know what would happen to me if I did that as a child? Now when I am at this table you WILL demonstrate good manners.”
It was plain to see that the little boy felt embarrassed, intimidated, devalued. Later that evening he struck his young sister "for no reason". This time he received a spanking. The next day in preschool his parents had to be called in to take him home for biting and scratching a child on the playground - again, "for no reason".
We want to "teach" children how to behave, and we do. We teach them to behave as we behave. The problem is that we are usually so unaware of our "shadow" behavior that we do not see the resemblence in the child.
To teach a child manners, or any other behavior that you deem appropriate, begins by observing not just your manners, but the spirit behind your manners. When do you feel justified in relating to others in an unkind, cruel or callous manner? You might feel justified in snapping harshly at your mate or your child when you feel wronged, but your behavior teaches your child just the same. When the child demonstrates unrefined behavior, work on your own refinement.
This is not easily done because most of us adults feel so stressed, annoyed, and hurt. We go to work and feel battled and belittled. We come home and find something similar going on. We feel powerless to control things and resort to blowing our tops to try to get control of the little ones.
This is all understandable. Watching a child being rude or crude at the table can be "the last straw" at the end of a hard day, or in the middle of a hard life.
There is another way, and that way is based on The Method For Parenting with love, and without anger or stress.
Teaching you child "good" manners begins with recognizing your reaction when your child displays "bad" ones. I put those words "good" and "bad" in quotes because they are subjective. What is considered "bad" manners in one culture would be perceived as fine in another. If we don't remember this we teach our child to be ethnocentric in a multi-cultural world. We don't want our children looking at people from other cultures as inferior barbarians because they define manners differently.
How you react to your child's display at the table gives you the key to improving that display. If you feel a sense of powerlessness, overwhelm, or panic over the loss of control the way to change things is by changing your internal state.
Our internal reactions are deeply programmed, so it is almost impossible to simply decide to remain calm, peaceful and loving when something happens that triggers a stressful reaction.
But by using The Method to withdraw your energy from your negative emotional states and reactions you naturally feel more calm, secure and loving toward yourself and toward others. When conditions don't go as you think they should, you don't panic and you don't go into overwhelm to get control.
Instead, you naturally find yourself behaving in ways consistent with your harmonious feeling state, meaning kind, caring, and genuinely polite. You will come up with gentle, loving ways of leading your child; but more often than not you will find that your child will do a fine job of leading herself, based on your consistent modeling.
Manners are not just for show. They are expressions of genuine sensitivity to a refined way of doing things and toward the feelings of others. They blossom naturally from our children and from us as we free ourselves from those internal states of discord that make life, work and parenting feel so hard.
Contact me to schedule your demonstration of The Method For Parenting to improve your relationship and results with your child.