We all share the goal of raising children who are well-mannered, kind, and perhaps can even share their toys without too much protest! Teaching gratitude starts from a very early age, but it can be a difficult endeavor. For example, many parents struggle between the desire to give their children everything and the knowledge that kids won’t get far in life with a sense of entitlement unaccompanied by good manners. Teaching gratitude happens most effectively in the simple moments, when we are thankful for the intangible (see examples below).
Emphasizing manners through sign language with babies and children teaches etiquette from a young age and it becomes a natural part of the way they interact with people. It gives visual support, to remind our little ones to be kind, and also makes it fun. Manners are an abstract concept, but kids will catch on when they watch you end every request by signing PLEASE. When your child hands you his or her toy, respond by signing and saying THANK YOU. It will become a habit and will make a difference in the long run.
My daughter, Zoë, learned to sign PLEASE at 13 months. When she began to speak, she still signed and said PLEASE when she really wanted something. Somehow, she understood that signing AND speaking had more of an impact. I’m sure that you, too, can teach your child these important signs that will serve as a great foundation for good manners.
Here are a few basic signs to start with to teach children manners:
- Meet and greet others: Hello & Good Bye
- Behave in public places: Share, My Turn, Your Turn, Excuse Me
- Improve table manners: May I Be Excused, Thank You, Please
- Develop social skills: Share, Take Turns, Please, Sorry, Friend
Let the Sign Shine!
Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner www.SignShine.com