Games to Teach Kids Good Manners
We have all seen those children having a melt down in the store. After you have had your own children you tend to look at those children (and their parents) a little differently. A quiet sigh of relief that your own children are currently behaving and rushing from the store before they get any ideas is a new parents response. So how do you encourage good manners and discourage grocery store melt downs in your little angels? Based on my personal experience with my girls and teach others' children, I recommend gender appropriate games that encourage an entire character of respectful behavior.
If you have dealt with kids at all you know that girls and boys approach the world differently, so take advantage of those differences. Girls (even tomboys like my oldest daughter) enjoy the idea of being a princess beautifully arrayed in gowns and jewels. Boys, on the other hand, would rather run around beating on each other with sticks, they want to be warriors. Tales of valor about the knights of old are of more interest to boys. Below I've outlines to gender appropriate approaches to teaching good manners.
Princess Games to Teach Good Manners
To make the games as engaging as possible I highly recommend props. Any or all or the following can add to the fun: dresses, shoes, jewelry, scarves, boas, tiaras, gloves, capes. Whatever you think your little girl would enjoy is a good choice. Invite a friend or two to enjoy the festivities. But don't get carried away with the invitations or it will be difficult to actually get the lessons taught.
Begin your lesson by explaining that manners are a way to show respect and consideration to others. Remind the girls that a princess is always considerate. Ask the girls if they can remember ways princesses can be considerate. Ask them ways they have show consideration or ask ways that they could show consideration for others. Help the girls come up with all the manners you wish to address by phrasing them as questions. "Is it considerate to share toys with someone who doesn't have any playthings?" "Was Belle considerate when she helped the Beast when he was hurt?"
It is best to be providing these instructions while they are engaged in an activity. Consider helping them with their dress-up. While getting their hair or nails done, the girls have to sit relatively still. Or provide a princess craft so that they are all gathered around the table. Creating princess wands or jewelry are fun choices.
After the girls are decked out in their princess finery and you have reminded them that being a princess is more than pretty clothes, you can continue your etiquette lesson over tea. Model good behavior for them and explain each rule.
- I have put my napkin in my lap to protect my pretty dress.
- I will take only one treat the first time the tray is passed so that each guest can have her choice of treat.
- I pulled my chair up to the table so that I am not likely to spill my treats and so that others may pass behind me should they need
For additional information about staging tea parties as well as more tea party etiquette read my hub Children's Tea Party.
Code of Chivalry
The code of chivalry was not truly a set of rules but a part of the culture of the Middle Ages. Their society inherently understood the chivalrous qualities of a knight: courtesy, honor, gallantry toward women and of course bravery. However, the code of chivalry was described in the song of Roland as follows. Feel free to adapt it to fit the needs of your little knight.
- To fear God and maintain His Church
- To serve the liege lord in valor and faith
- To protect the weak and defenseless
- To give succour (aid) to widows and orphans
- To refrain from the wanton (malicious) giving of offense
- To live by honor and for glory
- To despise pecuniary (monetary) reward
- To fight for the welfare of all
- To obey those placed in authority
- To guard the honor of fellow knights
- To eschew (shun) unfairness, meanness and deceit
- To keep faith
- At all time to speak the truth
- To persevere (continue on) to the end in any enterprise begun
- To respect the honor of women
- Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
- Never to turn the back upon a foe
Knight Games to Teach Good Manners
Knights are a good choice for boys to model themselves after because of all the warriors knights were to exemplify the virtues of chivalry. Which, according to the Duke of Burgundy, were the following virtues: faith, charity, justice, sagacity (knowledge, understanding and good judgement), prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality (open-mindedness), diligence, hope and valour. A worth, but daunting, list. So how do we begin?
As with your girls make the games more engaging by including props. Swords and armor can be made or purchased. Then prepare tests and trials by which they can prove their prowess as knights. As they pass through their trials discuss the code of chivalry with them. Explain that knights begin their training as servants to aid the development of chivalry because as knights they are expected to uphold those virtues.
- Hand to hand combat (sword fighting)
- Jousting (Using bikes as their steads set up a target at which the boys can aim their lances.)
- Archery (consider Nerf guns)
- Horseback riding (Bike obstacle courses are an option.)
After the boys have passed through their trials and more importantly can explain the virtuous behavior on which you have been instructing them have a knighting ceremony. Ideally the trials should have lasted several days so that the boys have the ideals of chivalry firmly fixed in their minds. Then make a big production of the knighting ceremony.
Dress your little knight in a special outfit. In the middle ages squires would dress in white to symbolize purity, red for nobility and black shoes to symbolize death. Choose a male role model to perform the ceremony and give him your son's sword and shield. Have your son repeat the rules of chivalry you have instructed him on promising to do his best to uphold each. Using the sword the man performing the ceremony should tap your son's shoulder dubbing him a knight. When he says, "Arise, Sir Knight" that signals the beginning of the music and feasting to celebrate your sons accomplishments.
From that point simply provide gentle reminders and encouragements on occasion. "That was a very knightly action." "Thank you, Sir Knight." "How would a knight behave in this situation?" "What would King Arthur (or any famous and admired knight) do in this circumstance?"
For more information on Knights visit the Middle Ages Knights website.
Let your children have fun while learning. Give them someone to model. Expound upon the model's virtues. Praise your children whenever they get it right. Good luck!
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