Learning to be polite

Barbara Olinger, MSW Parenting Consultant, shares advice for parents on the best way to teach manners and politeness to your children
Teaching Manners To Kids - The Importance Of Politeness
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Learning to be polite

Many parents want their children to be polite, but some adopt the, 'what's the magic word approach.' That approach can backfire, however because it doesn't take the context into consideration. A child can ask for something using the magic word 'please,' but ask in a really demanding way so the parent's caught in a bind. You have to fulfill the request because they've used the magic word, but is this the way of asking for something we want to support. Instead I like to help the child ask in a way that helps the other person want to do it. So it's not necessarily the words they use, but in how they say it. If a child says, "MORE MILK PLEASE!" I would respond, "Is there a way you can ask me in a way that makes me feel like wanting to do it, like, may I have more milk?" In this way a child learns to be less demanding and understands that being polite is in the context of the word relationship, not just the words they use.

Barbara Olinger, MSW Parenting Consultant, shares advice for parents on the best way to teach manners and politeness to your children


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Barbara Olinger, MSW

Family Consultant

Barbara Olinger has her Masters in Social Work and has worked with children and families in both educational and therapeutic settings for over 35 years. This has included being a Child and Family Therapist, the Supervising Clinician in an outpatient mental health clinic, a co-founder of a co-operative preschool, and Director of Family Development at the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside. In her current private practice, Barbara focuses on parent education and support for parents of children ages 1-10 years old and preschool teacher training. She offers on-going groups, individual/couples sessions, a monthly Dads Group, workshops on a variety of parenting topics, and phone consultations. Barbara has two sons, 29 and 26 years old.

The roots of healthy development begins with having our needs met. This is a requirement for growth: to separate, to feel confident physically, emotionally and socially, to gain a healthy sense of self, to be able to become compassionate. When our needs are supported, we develop from a foundation of trust- in our relationships and in our exploration of the world.

Strong families are built on a foundation in which development is understood and celebrated, mistakes are allowed, feelings are validated and connecting with others is emphasized. Parents can set limits with behavior while supporting needs in a way which promotes learning and self-esteem.

During this whole parenting journey, it is crucial to be conscious of our own needs and to take care of ourselves. Sharing our fears and anxieties about parenting with others can help us realize we all feel vulnerable at times and this can provide a space for growth and connection. Every parent need support!

Barbara’s parenting book “Growing From the Roots” and two DVDs (“Growing From the Roots” and “Welcoming Your Second Child”) are available through Amazon.com

More Parenting Videos from Barbara Olinger, MSW >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter