Manners in Preschoolers: Empathy as the Teacher
tThis is Kindness Week in Ottawa. It runs from Feb 18th – 25th. I had another post scheduled, but it may have been less than kind so, in honour of Kindness Week, I am not going to hit publish on it.
As I perused the KindOttawa.Ca website, I was most interested in the list of Kindness Tips. In addition to suggestions on how to be kind this week, there are great suggestions on how to be charitable and kind all year round. But what struck me most were the items on the list that are simply a matter of good manners.
So let’s talk manners, more specifically manners in preschoolers. And I’m not talking table manners, because that’s a whole other post. Let’s just talk simple manners using “please” and “thank you” as an example.
I have a theory. I think manners come from empathy. Yes, we need to remind kids to say “please” and “thank you”, but once they understand the purpose of those words and how they make the person they are talking to feel, they will come easier and more regularly.
I see it in my five-year old now. As an example, last evening we were at my mom’s house for dinner. Lil D was in a particularly good and generous mood. He complimented my mom and the food as he took the first few bites “this is really good Nana, thank you” as he ate it. He asked to be excused from the table before leaving (not a regular occurrence unsolicited). He was being polite from a place of empathy. He understood that my mom had spent time making a great dinner for the four of us and those words and actions would make her feel good.
Lil C imitated his brother (somewhat).
So, in short, because it’s Family Day and I wanna get outside with my Family, rather than campaigning for Kindness, I’m thinking we should be acting out of empathy all year round so that our children learn to treat each other with respect and kindness all year round.