Tips to Teach Your Child Manners
Should we expect our children who are deaf and hard of hearing to have age-appropriate manners? The answer is a resounding YES! If our goal is to raise confident conversationalists, we want to set high expectations from an early age, just as we would with any hearing child. However, because children who are deaf and hard of hearing can miss subtle social cues, we want to make sure we intentionally explain the meaning behind manners and offer plenty of opportunities for them to observe, learn, and practice appropriate use of manners in conversations and interactions with others. Keep in mind that while good manners may be the ultimate goal, the process of building a strong foundational understanding takes years to build in conjunction with your child’s cognitive and language development.
Here are some tips to teach, model and encourage your child’s development of manners for a future of social success.
Model the language of manners in conversations and play: The best way for your child to learn manners is through observing and listening to you as you interact with others and model the language of manners in daily routines and play.
Take conversational turns: Help your child develop turn-taking skills. In conversations, pause and look expectantly to your child for a response.
Encourage good listening: Cue your child to listen to others and then offer a summary. “I heard him say he went to the park. I wonder what he did?”
Build an understanding of empathy: Put words to and express empathy for your child’s feelings and talk about the feelings of others.
Put meaning behind the manners: “Please,” “thank you,” and “sorry” are more than just words. Before expecting your child to use these words, help them to understand the meaning behind the language of manners and the feelings associated with good communication.
Know what’s age-appropriate: There are a lot of cognitive and language developmental milestones that need to happen before your child can understand the ‘why’ of manners. In fact, children don’t fully develop theory of mind (the concept that others have thoughts and emotions different from their own) until the age of 4.
Compliment your child after positive interactions: If you notice your child interacting in a positive way, talk to them about how they made you or others feel.
Observe how your child interacts with others: Five minutes of observation can go a long way. Does your child respond to communication attempts from peers? Do they listen to others? Are they dominating the conversation? Do they take conversational turns?
Read books together: Children’s books can offer light hearted and humorous scenarios for discussing good and bad examples of manners.
- Interrupting Chicken
- My Mouth is a Volcano
- Do Unto Otters
- Froggy Eats Out
- Atchoo! The Complete Guide to Good Manners
For more tips from the trenches of teaching manners, consider joining the Family Support Community, where you can ask questions, share stories, and receive support from other families of children with hearing loss who are learning to listen and talk with Listening and Spoken Language (LSL).
- How to Help Your Child Develop Empathy
- Developing Social-Emotional Skills
- Mind Your Manners!
- Theory of Mind: What It Is and How Your Child Can Develop It
Blog post originally appeared on the Hearing First blog, Tips to Teach Your Child Manners