If you feel a bit incompetent around moms who have calm children with good manners, you’re not alone. So what do they know that we don’t? Experts say the key to teaching kids social graces is modeling good behavior, but if you feel like you’re already doing that but it’s not enough, here are some tricks from moms of polite kids:
They know manners start at home - You might feel like you’re a little too “Downton Abbey”-ish saying “excuse me,” “thank you,” and “please” to your neighbors, nannies, baristas, and crossing guards, but moms who do raise wonderful little mimics.
They talk to their kids with respect - Moms who have polite kids start their requests with a please and finish them with a thank you, even when they’re talking to their kids. “Children parrot these terms and understand their usefulness long before they understand their meaning,” writes parenting guru, Dr. Sears. So remember, from now on it’s “Please don’t pull your pants down in the parking lot, thank you.”
They never treat their kids like a third wheel - Even when they’re doing something with another grown-up, like grabbing coffee with a child-free pal, moms of polite kids don’t ignore their little ones. They maintain physical and eye contact with their kids around other adults and include them when they can in the conversation.
They minimize interruptions - One way to quiet a child who’s eager to interrupt two adults talking is to teach her to touch you on the wrist and wait, then you put your hand on hers to acknowledge her while you finish talking.
They prep for playdates - Moms with polite kids talk about what’s expected of them on the way to playdates, so they know about sharing, cleaning up, and respecting others’ personal space. These moms also calmly and gently teach their tots to apologize when necessary. And they also know that short playdates keeps them sweeter.
They react to misbehavior on a sliding scale - Moms who raise polite children also don’t turn every mistake into a mini-crisis. They don’t have a one-size-fits-all reaction to everything and deal with each issue as it comes up.