Establishing good manners in a child. Easy? NO WAY!
I was inspired to put my 2 cents into the discussion based upon an article in the March 2005 edition of Parenting Magazine.
I think it's the hardest thing in the world. But it is rewarding.
When I had the Princess, I realized that I had to pick my battles. Pick the behaviors that I wanted her to understand first. Those were the things that I worked on first.
Asking for things she wanted. "May I please have..."
When initially speaking to us to make sure she has our attention, then carrying on the discussion. "Mommy..." "Daddy..."
Saying "Thank you"
Those are few that we worked on from the beginning. When she couldn't speak, we'd talk amongst the two of us (Hubs and I) and say the words we wanted her to say. When she got older and could talk, we'd encourage her to say the words. Even now, we sometimes have to say "What do you say?" when she forgets to use her words. I don't tell her what she needs to say. She knows the words. She just needs to remember to use them sometimes.
There are still behaviors we're working on now that she's four, but she's well on her way. Right now she needs to be conscientious about not interrupting when others are having a conversation.
Watching his sister interact with us, the Bear is developing his own manners. He says "Thank you" whenever we give him something. He says "Bless you" when we sneeze. He says "Please" when he wants something. He loves to smile at folks when they smile at him. He enjoys saying "Hi" and "Bye" with his waving.
My kiddos aren't perfect. They have their meltdowns. The Princess says "I want..." and "I don't like you!" when she's not in a good mood or tired. The Bear will lay on the ground and kick and cry when he doesn't want to do something. This happens to all kiddos. I expect it to happen. They're kids. I don't insist they behave 100% of the time. They have a lot more years ahead of them to perfect their manners. But for the most part, for their age...they're good.