I've thought a lot lately about how to teach my children courtesy, social skills, and manners. Here are a few books I love!
1. Cookies: Bite sized life lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Make some cookies with your little ones and sit down to enjoy this book. I even have a copy if you want to borrow it! :)
2. D.W.'s guide to perfect manners by Marc Brown. My gals LOVE D.W.! This is a cute book that has motivated my 3-year-old to try and be "perfect." It goes over basic manners and helping out around the house! Love it!
3. Bears on Chairs by Shirley Parenteau A cute story about how bears work together to solve a problem. Great discussions on sharing can ensue.
In my opinion, manners and courtesy are things that need to be taught explicitly. You have to PRACTICE and MODEL, MODEL, MODEL for your kids!! Discuss every situation and ask questions that can help them figure out what to do!
Anticipate situations where your child may not act in a polite way. Birthday parties can be difficult for small children, especially siblings of the birthday kid. Some kids have a hard time when other kids are getting attention. Act it out beforehand. Play "Birthday Party" and have kids give each other "presents" (we wrap ours in blankets) and practice being glad for each other when another child gets a present. Do the same thing and have the present opener practice gratitude for the gift. We do this in a scripted way. The present opener must look the giver in the eye, say their name, and say "thank you for the gift." Practice makes perfect!
I've started giving my preschooler "do-overs." When she speaks in a tone of voice that is not polite, I say "Why don't you try that again?" Because we've talked about it, she knows that whining or yelling is not appropriate. We don't even yell "Please get me a drink." Tone is important.
A great article on teaching generosity.
Discuss actions of the characters in books you read and movies you watch. For example, Woody in Toy Story does not use kind words or a kind tone. Get your child thinking about it. Don't worry that bringing it up will make them copy the behavior. Set firm limits. "Shut-up you idiot" is not something we say to people.
Praise! Praise! PRAISE! Try and notice every time your child uses good manners, is polite, is generous, and praise them!
Write thank-you notes for everything! Gifts, play-dates, or other special things need to be acknowledged and is a great way to teach your child gratitude.
Keep a family gratitude journal. Brainstorm things as a family once a week, or more!