Using privileges to teach politeness

Estimated Reading Time 2 Minutes

What do you want for your kids? Let me
guess. You want them to achieve in school.
You want them to do well in sports or
to nurture some other talent. You want
them to socialize well. You want them to
be polite and kind and learn the basics of
civilized behaviour. Being popular would
be nice. How am I doing so far?

Now, what do kids want? They want
to avoid homework. They want to stay
up later. They want the latest electronics.
They want to be popular.

That polite and kind thing can be a
stickler. However, Jennifer Koontz, author
of When Your Centerpiece is Made of Play-
Doh and the Dog Has Eaten Your Crayons
has developed The Privileges System
for Children: Ten Steps to a Courteous
Kid. She insists that you can raise kind,
well-mannered kids with no yelling, no
spanking, no time-outs.

You make a deal with your child. They
get to choose, say, five privileges every day.
You write or draw each one on a sticky note
and mount them in full sight. Every time
the child whines, is rude or misbehaves
they see a privilege come down.

The parents must never raise their
voices, never show anger and, in fact,
should sympathize because the child made
a bad choice. Just remind the youngster
that tomorrow is a new day and can be
better than today. Kids soon understand
that there is a payoff for good behaviour.

Last week, I watched a grandmother
having lunch and chatting with a child
about six years old. I heard him say,
“Mommy says young kids should hold the
door open for their grannies.”

Later, “Mommy says it’s not nice to
complain when you don’t like the food.”

Still later, “Mommy says it’s nice to look
at the waitress when you say ‘thank you’.

When they were leaving he said, “Granny,
did I do everything just like grownups?”

Yes, he did. And he and his grandmother
basked in the approving smiles of the
waitress, the couple at the next table and me.

Kudos to that Mommy.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2012.

Related Articles

Made Possible With The Support Of Ontario Creates