We all want our kids to “act right” or be on their best behavior. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen by itself — children are not born with manners. We have to teach them to:
- Follow directions
- Ask permission
- Accept “No” for an answer
- Get someone’s attention (politely)
- Wait your turn
- Ask for help
- Listen to others
- Say you’re sorry
In every case, the first step is teaching the child to look at the person.
From earliest infancy when we talk, rock and sing to our children, we look into their faces. Our eyes connect and we engage.
We have to keep doing that — looking at our children when we speak to them — so they know we are engaged with them. Try not to get distracted. Focus on your child when you communicate. Be clear and attentive.
Children learn how to engage their parents, and others, by watching us engage with them. All of the skills listed above begin with the lesson of teaching the child to look at the person who is talking, or to look at the person the child wants to talk to. Once the child is fully engaged, the rest comes more easily.