Dad for Beginners

Amateurism at its best


Kids and Manners: a manual for new parents/pitiful role models


Encouraging good manners and behavior in children is a difficult endeavor. It is made even more challenging once parents realize that the real key to promoting manners and kindness is based on role modeling. Most modern adults are simply unable to be decent examples for children, mainly because modern adult society is foundationally build on the principles of avarice and greed. Adults who are genuine role models for children are few and far between. However, there are other ways to solicit good behavior from children that do not require the parent to always be an exceptional role model. Although certainly the “lead by example” method is the preferred course of action, use the following suggestions as secondary means to bring out the best in your child.

If you live in a mental fantasyland where adherence to 19th century parental dictums is acceptable, corporal punishment represents the easiest way to promote good manners in children. By forcefully hitting your child with a variety of objects you can punish bad behavior and simultaneously positively reinforce good behavior. If you hold no qualms about your child fearing you, fearing adults in general, experiencing excruciating pain, crying, wailing, bleeding, developing a lack of trust in all humanity, or learning to accept the belief that physical violence solves problems then surely corporal punishment is a viable option for teaching good behavior. If you can do it in a public venue and also illustrate to your child that humiliation and ridicule are acceptable means for eliminating poor manners, then consider your job done and your transformation into a monster fully complete. You’ve successfully altered the behavior of your child by exercising your superior strength and cleverly crafted an atmosphere of goodwill based on fear and intimidation. Good for you.

Another less harmful yet effective way to solicit good behavior from a child is negotiation. Children are master negotiators. It is a well-documented fact that most children are born as used car salespersons and only through growth and education do they become anything else. If left unchecked and uneducated, the world would be overrun with unemployed used-vehicle hawking charlatans due to lack of available work. You can negotiate anything with a child so long as the reward is worth their time and effort. Children will share, eat healthy, sleep, and readily adopt exquisite manners if they’re led to believe it will benefit them in another way. Also referred to as bribery, skillful negotiation can be one of the greatest tools a new parent can hone for bringing out the best in a child, albeit temporarily.

Perhaps the most effective way to enforce good manners and behavior in a child is scare tactics. This is different than the aforementioned corporal punishment because scare tactics do not physically harm the child and if executed properly, will result in minimal emotional scarring as well. An example of a good scare tactic is identifying something a child dislikes and using that very thing against them to improve their behavior. If you have something that you know your child dislikes and/or is scared of, like for example a scary Halloween gorilla mask, use this item in a semi-benign yet still threatening manner to quash that unwanted behavior and bring out the positivity. If your child knows (through your subtle and infrequent reminders) that at any moment you might reappear as a gorilla, you should be able to keep their behavior in line with acceptability without actually having to pull your gorilla mask out of the crawl space.

While all these suggestions will certainly help you mold your child’s behavior in the ways you are seeking, it is critical to remember that literally all of them are to be used only when you, the parent, have totally failed to be a reasonable example of how to be a suitable human. Human decency and compassion should not be that difficult for you to muster and the average adult is fully capable of being a positive role model for a child, although most don’t seem to know how to harness their role modeling skill set. If you are such a tremendous waste of life that you cannot summon the ability to intermittently serve as a good example of how to be a polite and well-mannered functioning human, then use the above suggestions to aid in keeping the behavior of your child in check until you are capable of becoming a well-adjusted individual. If there is any lingering doubt that you cannot accomplish the task of leading by example, there are agencies that will set your child up for adoption at virtually any age.

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