Experts Say: Where are Your Manners?

I've tried to teach my children the best of manners but they are still rude and demanding. What should I do? 

Firstly, parents need to understand where this behaviour comes from e.g. is it learned or are the adults doing the same to others when the child is present? Secondly, what maintains this behaviour – are they always getting what they want or is it a power struggle? Thirdly, what happens when they behave in this manner? Will there be consequences or is the punishment excessive? Fourth, are there any other triggers like sibling rivalry, behavioural issues or emotional triggers or are they just seeking your attention?

 

Parents can try the following: 

 

1.       Some children may not understand their behaviour is wrong. Others may have lesser skills hence they tend to use what they are used to. Therefore, when all is calm, education is important. Teach them what to do and discuss it or role play. Explain the importance of behaving well and how others will perceive them. Emphasise on how it can hurt others and that it is not what they want others to do to them. Work out a system that you can prompt them to self-correct so there will be lesser tension.

 

2.       Avoid correcting them in public to avoid embarrassing them which can lead to more confrontations. Use examples to showcase good behaviour and praise them when they achieve little changes. Set smaller goals to focus on and practice so it will be easier for the child to handle. You can let the child choose which to do first, making them feel in control and increase compliance. Then build on it once the child has mastered it but don’t forget about it. 

 

3.       Be a role model and practice what you want even when you are in a rush or are angry or you’re dealing with others. Avoid threatening, harsh punishments or putting the child down as it may seem normal to do so. Always show them what respect is. Be consistent with no exception. In order to avoid confusion, do not tell the child or others that it is cute when they talk back or that they are smart as it indicates that such behaviour is acceptable. 

 

4.       Set boundaries such as what they need to do on their own and when they need to help out in the family. Reward with small gestures when the effort is made. Avoid attending to their every need straight away or giving in as it sets the habit for immediate gratification. Teach them independence by getting them to learn what is expected of them. 

 

5.       Avoid comparing them to others or making them feel guilty or useless as it will increase their frustration which may lead to more challenging negative behaviour plus decreasing having any care for it.

 

6.       Be patient as it will take time but by not giving up shows the child you are serious and that they cannot get out of it. Everyone in the family has to practice the same teaching. Otherwise, the person teaching will be overridden. Address any issues later when all is calm. 

 

7.       Talk to their teacher to find out if they are the same in school. Monitor from a distance to see how the child is treating or responding to others. This can give you some clue on their behaviour. 

 

Question answered by:

Daniel Koh

Psychologist

Insights Mind Centre

HP: 9363 5815

Thanks for sharing!