- The Brain System
Children do not have a fully developed brain like that of adults. This child-like brain doesn’t follow the logic that adults’ brain does.
So, argument-based approach doesn’t work. You cannot convince children by explaining alone. They understand impulse. They don’t quite know how to channelize their anger.
Since you can’t do much about it, empathize with children. Understand that they can’t process multiple or complex requests. So, if you’ve been yelling at them because they didn’t say sorry after doing something wrong, rest assured that they’ve been only hearing: blah, blah, blah.
You may have said, “How can you do this? Is this the right way to behave? Where are you learning such bad manners from?” But they’re not listening to any of that.
- Bad Role Models
Children don’t listen. But they do observe. And copy. We’ve read countless proverbs saying something to that effect.
If you don’t say “Thank you” to them or to other grown ups on appropriate occasions, they’ll not know they’re expected to say “Thank you”.
Even as a general rule of thumb, they’ll not know which situations lend themselves to a “Thank you” and which don’t.
- Imposition of Manners
Children are, very often, nagged into behaving well and showing good manners. They’re not explained what good manners are and why it’s important to follow good manners.
The children’s most obvious reaction to all the scolding and yelling is to rebel. They don’t want to follow something just because it’s imposed on them, or just because you’re asking them to.
Anyway, the most obvious point here is that if you need force in order to enforce good manners, it’s a bad idea.
- Social Naiveté
Children can’t distinguish between situations that require a particular response and the ones that don’t.
Maybe they think that being quiet is good manners. But when they’re complimented, they may still be quiet instead of saying “Thank you”.
That’s because they’re applying the command of “keep quiet” to an inappropriate situation.
- Lack of Reinforcement
There are times when children go ahead and do something good on their own.
The funny thing about parents is that they always notice when children do something wrong, but they don’t always notice when the children do something right. Or maybe they think a compliment, praise or reward is not required because it’s not a good deal.
But for children, doing something right, especially the things that their parents have been insisting on, matters a lot. They expect credit when it’s due. They may not be able to articulate it so well.
Spilling food all over the table, saying disrespectful things, or throwing a tantrum – parents agree that these are all bad manners. However, they don’t always analyse the origins of bad manners.
There’s plenty of advice on teaching good manners. However, all the advice can be followed only if the reasons behind the problem are not known.