Manners

Teaching Manners To Your Boys

Blog Post - Little Gentleman

Written By Candilyn Young, June 2021

“Don’t spit in your brother’s slipper!” As parents of boys, we’ve all said such off the wall things; making us ask, “Did I just say that?” We all know that boys do and say things that leave us parents scratching our heads, and grateful for that large box of band-aids in the kitchen.

I have four boys, and with each one I’m surprised by the different personalities they each have, yet still all rowdy, loud and sweet. Like most boys though, they do things that usually make us have that ‘palm to forehead’ moment at least once a day, and it’s under the category of manners. 

There are the fart noises — real and pretend — poop jokes, smelly feet, dirty rooms and clothes, punching and walking around looking like the real-life Pig-Pen from The Peanuts.

How in the world do you get those crazy boys to have manners and be civilized? 

Why?

Any parent will hear this dreaded word from any kid… why? 

Why say bless you?

Why do we say thank you?

Why? Why? Why?

The big word we use to explain manners to our kids is the word considerate — to be nice or show you are thankful. To get kids to have manners, they need to understand manners.

Once kids understand why, then it’ll be easier for them to follow suit. As a child, I remember asking, “Why do I have to learn about the square root of an isosceles triangle?” I was more willing to learn the whys for rules of the road.

Start ASAP

Just like doctors advise good eating habits early for kids, you should start teaching manners early also.

Before my boys could talk, they were saying please and thank you with sign language. The earlier a parent starts teaching their kids manners, the sooner manners become instinct to the boys.

Good male role model

BBC Earth had an article about overly aggressive teenage male elephants at a zoo some time ago. The zoo was facing the problem of aggressive male elephants attacking each other and rhinos. They found that these unruly elephants lacked what we would call a father figure, to teach them.

The same goes for human boys. 

As a mother, I cannot tell or show my boys how to grow up to be good men, gentlemen or even the bathroom how-to’s. That’s where my husband comes in. They see daddy opening mommy’s door, and now I need to wait for my five-year-old to come around the van to open my door when we pull into our driveway. If I don’t, my son gets offended.

Manners are cool because daddy is cool, and they want to be like daddy.

For those that don’t have a daddy around, perhaps there are other male family members, neighbors, community members, etc. that can be positive role models. 

“Do you see me doing that?”.

I’ve learned it’s easier to say to my boys, “Do you see mommy taking toys from people?” or “Does Mommy clean up after herself?”

Now, when I slip up in my manners, I sometimes hear my boys say, “Mommy say you’re welcome!”

Make it fun!

Having good manners ought to make life more enjoyable, not be another chore. We all know kids like to play more than work, but don’t we all? 

Some ways my husband and I make it fun:

  • We often say please and thank you in other languages and teach our kids about other countries’ ideas of manners.
  • My two-year-old thinks it’s fun to put dishes away because he’s there with mommy.
  • Use books, shows, and songs! Many of us have heard of the “clean up song.”

Again and again and again…

 Albert Einstein was quoted saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.”

Teaching boys to have good manners as opposed to belching, yelling, arguing, whining, and so much more, feels like an act of insanity. 

Thank goodness it’s not. As our boys grow we’ll need to be a broken record and one day that little boy will say excuse me, or not feel the need to belch, make fart noises and be able to wait his turn.

Pay attention to the little steps they are making and celebrate that.

I have faith that one day my five-year-old will no longer think that making fart noises is the funniest thing in the world! Right now, we are at the point where he belches and says proudly, “Excuse me, I belched!” The proud part being how loud the belch was, and not that he remembered to say excuse me.

Be Realistic

I don’t expect my sons to be suit and tie, pleasant and calm, perfect little angels. I know that is unrealistic, especially for my oldest. He feels that any form of necktie is a strangulation device. 

On the contrary, I fully expect and hope that they will get dirty outside, roughhouse with one another, and I want them to roar at each other when playing monsters. 

However, I do expect that they will want to wash their hands before dinner, say, “excuse me,” want to be helpful, and not say that any new food is gross.

It won’t be today, tomorrow, or next week. Having manners is part of one’s character and that is a process built on small consistent moments to celebrate.

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