Manners Stick When You Stick to Your Guns: Ask Mrs. Manners

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Photo by Momof3cuties

If you want all those hard-fought manners and family rules to stick with your child, then you have to stick to your guns when you're enforcing them. And that's not always easy.

Today MrsManners gives us some encouragement for holding firm to our rules and expectations, especially when it matters most.


Manners Stick When You Stick to Your Guns

From: MrsManners

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to stick to your guns when it comes to enforcing rules and manners expectations. However, it is imperative. So if you haven't already, you need to take some time and map out your family manners plan as we have talked about in articles past. Decide what you are willing to say "yes" to and what you want to say "no" to. These are not always black and white. Sure, it's pretty clear that you don't want your toddler sticking their finger in a light socket, but is it clear to you whether they should be jumping on the couch or playing with pots and pans?

Recently, I left my son at my sister's home, and she pulled the Aunt card and decided that it was okay (without me being present) to let my toddler play with her pots and pans. Well, let me tell you, this has led to a ridiculous number of battles in my home. I personally don't want my son playing with my pots and pans. They are rather expensive, and I don't want them damaged, even by accident. So what I should have done before leaving my son in my sister's care was to inform her of our rules for our son and our household. That mistake has cost me a tantrum a day for two weeks. Ouch. Even Mrs. Manners doesn't get it right all the time.

The fact is that once you have decided on a rule, you need to stick to it and share all your rules with those caring for your child. Period. While it hasn't been a bit of fun, we have had to say "no" to every request for one of our pans because that is what we decided upon. Is it worth the fight? Absolutely! For most people playing with pots and pans can be an inexpensive way to whip up a drum or some other fabulous noise-making toy, but in my house, pots and pans are not toys — and not because I want to strip my son of something fun but because we like to cook and have invested a fair bit into the tools that we use in the kitchen.

When your rules are put to the test, remember that your child will thrive in an environment that is consistent. Your toddler looks to you for everything, but most importantly, he looks to you for guidance and consistency. It's amazing how quickly something as small as playing with pots and pans can escalate into something big. It only takes a single mistake. Prior to the Aunt incident, my son and I never had a single disagreement about whether to play with pots and pans because we were consistent and as parents agreed that it was something we wouldn't be doing. I love that my son wants to cook and he has ample toys to make his imagination thrive in the cooking arena, so he doesn't need my pots and pans.

Sticking to your guns with your toddler will actually help to prevent temper tantrums, and that is a big deal in the realm of manners. You want to give your child every advantage in life, so make a list of things early on that you and your significant other are willing to do or not do in order to keep the peace. If you make a list of rules, you can share it with potential babysitters and family so that you don't have the same type of negative results that we experienced.

In fact, I would recommend that you not only create a list but that you update it on a yearly basis. As your toddler develops and grows, you will want to sit down and talk about those advancements and how they impact your list. Make the necessary modifications as they grow older, and you will avoid many a temper tantrum. There is nothing worse than having your toddler throw a tantrum because you weren't prepared to handle the issue, especially when you are out and about. I get a lot of questions about how to handle temper tantrums and the short answer is...prevention.

So now that I have shared my mistake, I would love to hear from you about yours. Has there ever been a time where someone changed the rules on you when you weren't looking? Have you had an incident where you and your significant other have disagreed on whether something would be a "yes" or a "no" and how did you handle it? We love to hear from you so please, by all means, share your stories with us and if you have a question that you want answered, just leave me a note and I will answer it for you in an future article.

Submit your manners/behavior questions in the comments below or via PM to Cafe Sheri. CafeMom MrsManners aka: Angela Pitre, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and, is here to help!

Read more from Mrs. Manners.


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