No one ever said parenting was easy, and sometimes a day when everyone gets out the door with two shoes on the right feet is a day worth celebrating. So when it comes to raising a child who is also polite, it can be exhausting to live up to the image of immaculately dressed and well-behaved children that’s floating around in your mind—especially living in the South where we tend to hang our hat on raising children who leave whomever they encounter saying, “Oh, isn’t she/he darlin’?” Below, a few secrets of moms who do have those enviably well-behaved children and how they really make it happen. Spoiler: She isn’t perfect either.
1. They're polite—to strangers and to their kids. If your daughter sees you snap at that rude cashier, your sibling, or even her, you can't be too surprised when she mimics your behavior. We certainly know no one is perfect, and it's more than okay to explain your worst moments to your children as something you regret, but it’s a good reminder that you're the most constant example your children have for how to speak and act.
2. They emphasize other people's feelings more than the "right" words and actions. As Southerners, we’re all taught to say our ma'ams and sirs, pleases and thank yous from the moment we start forming sentences. Those are all good habits to be forming in your children, but the core of being a polite person is being someone who thinks about others and how you might be affecting them, by your words or actions. Teaching your children from an early age to share and take turns because it's fair, not just because it's the right thing to do, will help them grow up to be considerate, which simply dictates what we think of as "polite" behavior.
3. They expect, and appreciate, good behavior all the time, not just in public. It's hard to expect kids to "turn on" their manners in a nice restaurant if they've rarely practiced them at home. We're not suggesting suppertime be stiff and rules-enforced, but setting certain rules at home (no eating with your hands, no elbows on the table, etc.) will teach your children to use that behavior in every setting.
You might also be interested in:
4. They don't force it. At the end of the day, a child who's pouting and upset because you scolded him for cutting to the front of the line at a birthday party might be worse than having a child who cut the line once. As with any relationship, you have to pick your battles, and as long as it's not grievous behavior or a pattern that signals they’re not considering other people's feelings, it's more than ok to let it go every once in a while.