Family Life

Michelle Duggar’s Most Important Tip for Teaching Kids Manners

posted: 02/24/14
by: Michelle Duggar


Photo: DCL

Question from a "19 Kids and Counting" fan on Facebook: I'm dealing with a child that's in the phase of, "I want. I want. I want." They want everything. Do you have any advice for breaking that habit?

I sure do. I learned the hard way. With my first one, that was a struggle!

They need to learn that you don't say, "I want." You need to say, "May I please?" That has been so powerful in transforming my little ones' attitudes. They might need something, but the way to express that need is by asking politely. If they ever start a sentence off with "I want," I always stop them and say, "Wait a minute. You said that wrong. What do you need to say to Mommy? Try it again. Let's practice. Say 'May I please have a drink?' 'May I please have a piece of cheese?'"

I have them do it two or three times, practicing the right way, and then I say, "Sure, you can." I teach the older ones to reinforce this. Do not give it to them if they say "I want." Make sure you talk encouragingly to them to say it the right way. They need to understand that they've got to express gratitude, or else they're going to be a self-centered child.

We read a book by S. Truett Cathy, the man who started Chick-fil-A, called How Did You Do It, Truett? His recommendation is that when somebody says thank you, instead of saying, "You're welcome," you say, "My pleasure." You go above and beyond really expressing that service spirit that we should all have. So I always have them say thank you. I tell the kids, "We are learning to be grateful. When somebody gives you something, you say thank you." Then I respond, "My pleasure."

We also look to Jesus and we want to follow his example when he said, "The greatest among you will be the servant." So we have a chart in our house where we keep track of their good work, praising them for good character -- not being selfish, but for being kind to others, and showing gratefulness. Every time one of the children does something correctly, like saying please or thank you, they'll get a checkmark. It's very encouraging for them to see their progress. When they do really well, they'll get a small reward.

This is all that concept of attitude, teaching them that life does not revolve around you. You're not the center of the universe. Surely there are other people around you, and you need to express kindness to them for all the ways they serve you.

Have a burning question for Michelle Duggar? Send it to her and it could appear in an upcoming post!

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