An increasing amount of our time is spent online, both at work and in our personal lives. But we still need to interact with fellow humans, and in fact, we feel better when we connect with other people face-to-face.
So how do we learn the social etiquette and behavior that keeps interactions with family and friends positive? If you follow Montessori, you’d learn how to act in a community through the lessons of Grace and Courtesy.
These lessons help young children learn how to interact with people in a respectful way. Starting at a young age, the lessons are meant to teach children how to “play nicely” with their peers, understand how to engage adults, and later in life, be ready for social encounters in the workplace!
There are many examples of Grace and Courtesy lessons, from opening a door to blowing your nose, but today we’d like to look at a lesson in “how to interrupt.”
Interruptions happen, that’s a fact of life, but by teaching your child the polite way to interrupt, you’ll head off quite a bit of frustration and prepare your child for other interactions outside of the home.
To teach your child this lesson in Grace and Courtesy, introduce the phrase, “Excuse me.”
Start by playing out a scenario! After all, children learn through play. Prepare two snacks or cups of hot cocoa. Sit down together and tell your child you’re going to play Snack Party! Model using “excuse me” first, as in, “Excuse me, would you pass me one snack please?” Then, tell your child, “Now it’s your turn!”
Here’s another use case for this Grace and Courtesy lesson: You stand nearby the person you’d like to speak to, and when there is a break in conversation, or if you’re interrupting someone who is busy reading or otherwise engaged, you state, “Excuse me. I’m sorry to interrupt, would you please help me tie my shoe?”
It’s ok if your child doesn’t get this concept right away! Try not to correct them, but rather, continue to play out the same scenarios and model this way of interrupting so your child can see it in action.
For younger children who aren’t speaking yet, simply continue to model this language when you speak to them or to others in the home. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt your play, but it’s time to eat dinner now.”
Children will use Grace and Courtesy lessons throughout their entire lives. By imbuing your child’s home environment with these lessons, they will become second nature as your child grows into a thoughtful and considerate adult!
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