04 March 2010

what to expect?

Do we expect too little of our kids? 

I was just reading a parenting magazine article about manners.  The thing that most got my attention was that the article said that it is too much to expect a 5 year old to smile and say thank you for a gift he does not like.
Specifically, the article told of a child who got an elmo toy and said, "I wanted a transformer."  The writer of the article said it is appropriate for the child to do that at age 5.  She said it is a teachable moment, which, of course it is, but we need to take responsibility for raising our kids right.  Sure, making sure they are well mannered adults is the ultimate goal, but not expecting it sooner is a cop out. 

You can start teaching a child manners as soon as they are upright and engaging with you.  You give the child a toy to play with, you say, "here you go."  The child gives it back and you say, "Thank you!"  You can even ask for the child to give you the toy, "please may I have it?"   It is as simple as that.  It really should come naturally to you and will come naturally to your child if you are consistent. 

When it is the child's birthday and family and friends are bringing gifts, prepare your child with the proper way to behave.  Model the behavior before the party.

"When Aunt Agnes gives you a gift, you say, 'thank you so much for the gift.  I am so glad you came to my party."

Remind the child, several times, that even if it is socks, he should say something nice like what you told him to say. 

For a young child, tell him or her that her behavior will be appreciated and that if they don't like the gift, most likely you can exchange it but that if she acts happy to have the gift, the giver will be very happy and if she shows the gift giver that she does not like it, the gift giver will be very sad.

It may take some practice and takes good prep work on your part, but will be successful.

The bottom line is it is irresponsible for a parenting magazine to excuse inexcusable, preventable behavior.

If you have high expectations for the behavior of your children, they will meet your expectations, but the opposite is also true. 

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