How to help children be polite

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Do you know the question I get asked the most:

'How can I stop my child being rude or demanding?'

Isn't this the most frustrating thing? Who wants to raise a little tyrant?

When they are rude it presses our buttons so much doesn't it?

We feel incompetent, like we've done a really bad job as a parent and we so often wind up shouting back something like 'How dare you be so rude to me?'

Does that work to change the behaviour?

Never has for me!

Want to know what really helps?...

  1. In a calm but firm voice tell your child ‘When you speak in that tone of voice I am NOT going to do what you ask’
  2. If they have said something rude to you like ‘You are stupid’, then reply ‘I can see you are upset with me, I don’t want to be called ‘Stupid’, you can tell me that you are upset. You can say ‘Mummy I am cross with you’ then get them to actually say this.
  3. You could put into words how they are probably feeling and ask your child to either make the request for what it is they want. You might say something like ‘Jack, you are feeling frustrated and shouting at me telling me you are hungry. What is your request? If you ask me for some food in a polite voice then I can help you’
  4. You will often find that the child then changes to a request but still with a rude tone. They might say something like ‘I want some food’ You then reply ‘That is much better. I still need you to say it in a polite voice, with a please, like you might be asking your teacher’.  Keep going until you get the tone of voice and the request you want and then you can help.
  5. Whenever your child does speak politely, make a big deal of it – ‘Sarah I really liked how you asked me nicely for some milk. I can definitely give you a cup right now because you were so polite’
  6. If you are in front of other people when the rudeness occurs, step aside with your child and go through some of the things above.  You do NOT want to shame or humiliate, you do want to train them into better habits.
  7. Remember the rudeness will be either a bad habit they have got into or driven by a strong feeling (or a combination) so address the feeling first by saying something like ‘I know you are upset about this so I need you to tell me how you feel without being rude to me’.

There are more skills to learn. Hope this helps you to be going on with!  


Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash