Montessori principles can play an important role in helping pre-schoolers to learn good manners. Maria Montessori believed young children have an innate sense of dignity and want to do the right thing:
Bring the child to the consciousness of his own dignity, and he will be free. We see no limit to what should be offered to the child, for his will be an immense field of chosen activity. – Maria Montessori
If we take the time to show our little ones good manners, they will learn from us because it is their natural inclination to do so.
So how, as mums and dads, do we put this in to practice?
The first thing to do when teaching manners is to model good manners yourself. If you want your child to say “hello”, “please”, “thank you”, “may I have a turn, please” and so on, you, too, need to remember your manners.
Secondly, demonstrate the rule of etiquette that you are working on with your child. If you would like your little one to greet adults – friends, family members, teachers – with a “hello, how are you?” or “hello, it’s nice to meet you”; show them exactly how to do this so that they are able to mimic your behaviour.
Once you’ve shown your child how to be polite, you need to give him/her opportunities to practice their manners. You could do this via role play or during the during the course of the day in casual situations – visiting a family member or going to school.
When your child gets it right, reinforce the behaviour with praise that articulates exactly what your child has done well, for example: “I am so proud of you for saying hello to Miss O’Brian (with a big smile) as you walked into your classroom this morning – well done!”
When your child gets it wrong, do not shame him/her by publicly criticising their efforts or lack thereof; simply have a discussion in private and perhaps remind your child about the correct behaviour, using role play for emphasis.
Patience is important when teaching manners – allow children the space to make mistakes and their inner need for self-development will eventually take over; before you know it, they’ll be exuding good manners all over the place.
Source: Livingmontessorinow.com – “How to Teach Your Preschooler Manners”