Parents often ask me questions that start like this:
How do I get my child to ……?
Be polite … be considerate … be generous … share … etc.
Regardless of what fills in that blank, part of my answer is always the same:
… you don’t have to get your child to do anything!
Instead, you can show him or her by living your own life as an example, and making sure to notice and respond positively to any movement he or she demonstrates in the desired direction. I noticed how you looked right into Aunt Sally’s eyes as you answered her question. Most people really appreciate that!
In addition to modeling the desired behavior, I also recommend role-playing mock scenarios with puppets or dolls. Kids are very quick to pick up social norms when they don’t feel as though they are being lectured or judged. Puppets are fantastic for circumventing possible defensive responses. Telling make-believe stories about an animal character learning the lesson you want your child to absorb is also very effective.
Finally, please make sure you are treating your child the way you want him or her to treat others. As the timeless poem reminds us … children learn what they live!
Copyright Karen Alonge 2006