Parents of young boys who wish to impart a sense of respect and a set of manners are faced with what can be quite a difficult task in a world that seems to truly believe that chivalry is dead. That’s not to say that the goal is impossible to reach, only that it might be a bit of a lofty one in this day and age. How can parents teach their sons to be little gentlemen when the world seems so eager to undo those teachings? These are a few hints and tips that may prove helpful.
Know that Good Manners Should Extend to Everyone
For some parents, the idea of instilling gentlemanly qualities in a little boy means that he’s eager to open doors for the little girls he meets and to treat them with a deference he wouldn’t show to his male peers. In fact, a true gentleman treats everyone with respect, regardless of gender. Rather than focusing on teaching your son how to behave gallantly in the presence of young women, explain to him that it’s important to be polite and respectful to everyone he meets.
Keep Your Expectations on a Realistic Level
While you may be charmed by the idea of a preschooler that has impeccable manners and behaves like a miniature adult, that’s simply not realistic. Your son can still be a budding gentleman without giving up his childlike qualities. A kindergartener may not know the ins and outs of fine dining etiquette, but he’s still doing a respectable job if he’s adept at sharing his toys and taking turns.
Realize That Compassion is the Key to Good Manners
When your child has compassion and empathy for others, he learns to respect them and to treat them accordingly. Instead of focusing on the minutiae of table manners at a young age, work towards instilling a sense of compassion and encouraging empathetic behavior. Understanding that how another person feels is affected by the way that he treats them is an essential lesson in the bigger picture that is gentlemanly behavior. Helping your son understand that he should always treat people the way he would like to be treated himself can make it easier for him to understand more complicated social interactions.
Model Polite Behavior
Few things have the lasting impact on your growing child as the way that he sees you behave. Children are learning to navigate the world of social interaction a bit more with every passing day, and it can seem very confusing to them. When your son doesn’t quite know how to react, he will look to you for cues or mimic behavior that he’s observed in you. As a result, one of the most powerful weapons in a parent’s arsenal when it comes to instilling a sense of courtesy and gentlemanly behavior is to model politeness in social interactions. Even when you don’t think your child is watching, he’s probably soaking up the way you act and processing it later through mimicry.
Remember That Practice Makes Perfect
Just like any other new skills, lessons in gentlemanly behavior tend to stick more when they’re regularly exercised. Teaching your son to be conscientious and polite isn’t accomplished in a single situation, but is a long-term work in progress. Encourage your son to behave politely at home, even if there’s no one around aside from immediate family. At an early age, your child probably spends more time at home than he does anywhere else, so it’s wise to make sure that lessons on etiquette and good behavior are consistently reiterated.
Get Your Caregivers in On the Action
If your child spends time with a childcare provider, it’s smart to let them know what you’re trying to accomplish, and the steps you’re taking to impart those lessons. When your efforts are reinforced by the babysitter, nanny or daycare staff, they’re more likely to be retained.
While you may want to raise your son to be the most considerate and polite young man on the block, it’s important that you keep the fact that he is just a child in mind. There will be a number of slips and missteps along the way, and browbeating your child into exhibiting perfect manners could backfire if he begins to feel resentful of your angry tone. Calmly and patiently discussing the importance of being polite while maintaining a realistic level of expectation is essential, especially when your son is still very young.