Who doesn’t want a super polite kid who pulls off good manners on trips without seeming robotic or slightly creepy like yesteryear’s Eddie Haskell?
Well, great news: vacations are an awesome place to teach manners because the kids aren’t overloaded with school work and extracurricular activities. Take a peek at how easy it is to instill beautiful manners in your snickerdoodles so that they’ll say “please” and “thank you” forevermore without being prompted.
To begin, catch your kids “doing it right” on trips. For example say, “we had to wait a looong time for our dinner reservation to be called and you were wonderful. High five to you!”
Boredom and poor behavior go hand-in-glove. Build a travel activity bag and pull it out when you’re on planes, in restaurants and so forth. Pack it with audio books, lollipops (helps with ear pressure and excessive talking), healthy snacks, a few surprises, and lots and lots of Calvin & Hobbes.
These days it’s super hot to cram STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math lessons – into every inch of a child’s life. (I’m as guilty as the next.) But experts agree: Kids need downtime in the pool, building sand castles at the beach, and time playing Monopoly or Hedbanz with you.
A trip is a perfect time to give STEM a rest.
Exhausted kids – us too – can be surly when running on too little sleep. Don’t cave. Insist that everyone stays on (or close to) their at-home sleep schedule when traveling.
To avoid grumpy, hungry kids, I bring a lot of snacks on trips. Because it’s rough to eat well on the road, I secretly make it my personal goal to have my boys get one fruit or veggie per meal. (And I keep the protein flowing.) I pack a lot of sliced apples, bananas, Cliff bars, sandwiches, trail mix, bottled water and you get the idea — not only do I save bucks by not buying junky snacks, but the kids are grazing on nutrition too. (Win-win.)
Explain to your kids (more than once) that people who work with the public – baristas, hotel staff, and restaurant servers – face monstrous behavior on every shift. Remind your kids that a smile and a kind word from them may be the one ray of sunshine in somebody’s day. Then when they say “thank you” or “yes, sir” high-five your sweetheart.
Not visiting Paris this year? I hear you. But even when you’re traveling to a neighboring state teach your sweethearts about other cultures and customs. I grew up outside of San Francisco, and had a great time introducing my boys to San Francisco’s Chinatown — long called the largest Chinatown outside of Asia (stretching over 24 city blocks). I couldn’t get my picky-eater to try the incredible food, but his brother dug into the best Chinese food — in my opinion — in the United States.
Build your relationship with your child by respecting their favorite things: watch their movies (and go wild with applause when Iron Man arrives to save the day), show interest in their toys, and take book trips together by reading aloud. Later, when discussions related to manners, ethics and character arise, your kids will be far more willing to internalize your values.
What are your tips to teach manners on vacation?