Being the Model of Good Behavior

Christine Pafumi
Aug. 6, 2012

One mom's insight to practice what you preach when it comes to manners as part of the Interview Series

When it comes to teaching her kids good manners, Katie Sluiter of Sluiter Nation keeps a few tricks up her sleeve. While she strives to use empathy and positive reinforcement consistently, she shares with us the real key ingredient: modeling.

Sluiter tells us how her two young sons have learned quickly why gimme, gimme never really gets, and how if she ever slips up, she'll be the one getting a manners lesson from a three-year-old.

Tell us about your family. How many kids do you have? What are their ages? What are their personalities like?

Sluiter Nation currently has a population of 4: me, my husband, and our two sons. Eddie just turned three and brings the drama. He likes to be the center of attention and he likes to do all the things by his "own self!" Charlie is almost 4 months and he is totally chill...content to just watch the family with amusement. I often think I see a twinkle in his eye and a smirk on his lips as he thinks, "Fools."

Are there any golden rules of manners in your house and how do you teach them?

We always emphasize empathy. "Would you want someone to do that to you?" The answer is usually, "No. Sorry." And then we hug it out.

What age is appropriate to start teaching manners and how have you approached it with your children?

It is never too early to teach manners! In fact, if you model good manners, it's very easy to teach them!

What role do you feel good manners play in building your children's confidence? How are you working to reinforce that?

I never really gave it a thought, but people compliment Eddie all the time on his manners. I know it gives him the confidence to ask people questions because he says things like, "excuse me, please," "thank you," and "may I please..."

What is your biggest pet-peeve when it comes to manners? How do you handle it with your own kids?

"Gimme!" It's ugly. We do not respond to it. And Eddie knows that "Gimme Gimme never gets!"

With the rise of technology, manners have certainly changed in the digital age. How have you have taught your children to avoid being rude? Do old-fashioned manners still apply?

Old-fashioned manners most definitely apply. We haven't had to deal with computers and Facebook and such with a 3-year-old, but we will be teaching the Golden Rule when it comes to technology.

Kids have been known to say and do the darndest things. What is the funniest, most impolite thing that your child, or any other, has said or done that you just couldn't help laughing at?

Eddie has told another kid, "I don't LIKE you!" I laughed...on the inside. Because I didn't like the kid either.

Have your kids ever caught you breaking your own rules? We want to hear about it!

Yes! Our rules are not to say certain words like "stupid." My son has MANY times lectured me about how "we don't say 'stupid', Mom. It's not nice at ALL."

In twenty years, what good manners do you hope your children take with them in their adulthood?

To treat others the way they wish to be treated, and to think of people's feelings.

If you could tell other parents just one thing about manners, anything at all, what would it be?

Model them. If you want your children to be polite, you have to live that way too.

Katie Sluiter is the writer and matriarch behind the popular mommy blog Sluiter Nation. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two boys keeping their eyes on the joys of life. Find Katie on Twitter and Facebook.

For more helpful tips, check out the Interview Series: Teaching Manners »

Photo used with permission from Katie Sluiter.
Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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