For parents and caregivers with demanding schedules, finding time to teach or mentor children is increasingly difficult. While professionals are relied upon to teach academic skills, the importance of social skills is often overlooked or simply forfeited due to lack of time. Yet, learning social skills early, especially during childhood, can shape a child’s character and greatly impact his or her life. Often, though, parents don’t want to use the time they spend with their children to seem as though they are always nitpicking or preaching, and, yet, they know the importance of raising responsible adults. So, what can they do?
As Founder of The Elegant Way Foundation, I have some tips for parents of young children on how to make learning manners not only fun, but lasting. Most children enjoy animal stories, as well as mimicking them, so using the characteristics of animals found on a safari can provide amusing and enduring examples of how to be gracious, kind and patient. Here are some examples that can be an entertaining educational tool:
If you want to instill confidence in your child so that they know how to introduce themselves to others, call to mind the giraffe. Show a photograph of a giraffe and explain how these beautiful creatures stand tall without much effort due to their size. Have your child mimic a giraffe’s walk to practice so that when they approach new people, they will do so confidently. They will quite likely remember to greet people with poise, posture, and confidence, if they stand tall like a giraffe!
Lower that Voice
Children can become demanding if they don’t get their way. They raise their voices and stamp their feet in hopes of getting what they want. Here is an opportunity to remind them that the “kings of the jungle” often do not need to roar, brag, boast, or bully in order to get what they need. Lions are cool, regal cats and will save the roaring when they are confronted with danger. Otherwise, their behavior gets respect when they exhibit respect. Take advantage of times when you can teach your child to keep their roars only for situations that demand it and remind them how they will get more respect by showing good manners. Besides, roaring all of the time will lose its effect and no one will pay attention to the rude demands.
Remember to Say Thank You
Reminding children that even though the African elephant is the largest and strongest land mammal on Earth, they are known to never forget. This is a great point to make when teaching children to remember to write a thank-you note to someone who gave them a gift or did something kind for them. As a parent, you can ask your child, if you were an elephant, what would you remember?
Don’t Be a Whino Rhino
Unlike the lion, rhinos have short tempers. When they don’t get what they want, they snort and bellow and become cranky. They can cause fear and do not make friends easily. So, teaching children that in order to have friends they should not be a whino rhino, but instead be patient and kind. This way they will make more friends and be like a penguin that proves to be loyal companions.
Teaching children manners by using animals found in the safari, Antarctica, or maybe the farm next door, as examples will be another way to show them a bigger world in which they are a part. It not only illustrates to them how to “tame their manners” but the different personalities that animals have. More importantly, it gives you as a parent quality time with your child while having rollicking good fun.
Loretta Neff is president of the Elegant Way School of Protocol, a boutique etiquette firm represented in Fort Lauderdale, Naples, and West Palm Beach, Florida. Her beautifully illustrated book, “Tame Your Manners At K.A.M.P. Safari,” will entertain children of all ages. All net proceeds from the book go to charity. You may find out more about the book here: http://ewbooks.org/.