Children learn from their surroundings, and are informed by the people the interact with, parents, teachers and carers - make sure that your children are being given a model example because otherwise they will pick up traits and habits that you don't like!
Table manners present a host of unwritten rules that we want children to abide by: remain seated until everyone has finished; finish all the food on your plate; no toys at the table; eat with your cutlery; arms and elbows off the table. You may wish to impress some or all of these rules but whatever your stance, make sure that you follow them yourself. Your children won't understand if they aren't allowed toys at the table but that you use your mobile phone at the table. Why should they eat everything on their plate if you don't finish everything on yours? Why should they remain seated if you disappear mid-meal to make a phone call, start washing the dishes or take on another chore?
This illustrates just how easy it is to contradict yourself, and can is mirrored in many other areas of a young toddlers life! Be aware of such contradictions in any regimented environment where we expect our children to conform to rules or manners, and especially to the language that we use and the ways in which we address others. If we lead by example then our children will naturally follow.
It may seem draconian to institute 'house rules', but if children are expected to behave in certain ways, you have to let them know what the rules are! House rules are those simple rules that ask your family to comply in certain ways, such as always taking shoes off when you get home, washing your hands before meals, remaining at the dinner table until you have finished your meal, keeping your bedroom tidy and so on.
When teaching your children the discipline you wish them to follow, you need to state your rules clearly. There's no need to write them down, indeed, young children won't be able to read them even if you do! But giving clear guidance as to what they should or should not be doing makes it easier for your children to learn and abide by your rules.
House rules might be based on manners or good behaviour; growing children learn by knowing what the rules are or where boundaries lie. Once they have a clear set of rules in mind, their broader behaviour will also be guided by these principles. Many rules will be obvious and simply reinforce good behaviour, you may have your own quirky rules that other parents might not apply; there's no harm in that at all, but do ensure that you apply any such rules consistently in your own home.
It is quite legitimate that parents be exempted from rules - children must learn that adults enjoy privileges that they one day will also grow into. However, if the rules don't apply to yourself or other adults in your home, then make sure that your children are aware of this so that they don't see non-compliance from adults as a green light to ignore rules themselves!
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