Social norms are a set of rules that govern the behavior and conduct of people who live in society, in order to guarantee a peaceful and respectful coexistence.
Saying hello when arriving at a place, asking for things please, being grateful or respecting others are just some of these basic rules that we must teach children from an early age. Check out more interesting articles on our Blog Fam.
And it is important to emphasize that children are not born with learned social norms, nor will they know how to act responsibly, respectfully and politely simply by asking them to “behave” .
We explain what basic social rules children should learn from an early age and how to teach them.
greet and say goodbye
- Say hello when we see someone. But, hey! Teaching to greet does not mean forcing the child to kiss or hug others against her will.
- Say goodbye correctly when leaving a place.
- Say good morning or good afternoon in a formal way , when we are introduced to someone, we answer a phone call, we arrive at a new place, we address a person…
Ask for things “please”
Asking for things “please” is not only a polite way of requesting something , but it helps to connect with the other person, expressing respect, consideration and appreciation for their efforts.
Give the thanks
Giving thanks implies acknowledging the kindness, predisposition or performance of a person. It is a simple word, but whose powerful meaning brings us closer to others and generates positive emotions, both in the other and in ourselves.
Likewise, it is good to teach children to value and appreciate what they have , as well as to recognize that things are not achieved by magic, but rather involve effort, work and perseverance .
Asking for forgiveness when we have made a mistake , or when the consequences of our actions affect others physically or emotionally, helps us grow and improve as people.
But just as we should teach children to apologize, it is also good to teach them to accept the forgiveness of others and not hold a grudge in our hearts.
Don’t yell when you speak
It is very common for children to yell , not only when expressing their emotions, but as a way of being noticed or even when they speak and interact with others.
However, this way of communicating is especially annoying , so it is important to teach children to speak in a calm and relaxed tone of voice, avoiding raising the volume of the voice.
Wait your turn to speak
Interrupting conversations is very normal behavior for children . Their impulsive and spontaneous nature, their sense of immediacy (when they have something to tell us they want to do it now) and their lack of acquisition of social norms , makes them unable to understand that what they are doing is not correct .
Therefore, among the basic rules that we must teach them in relation to this aspect, the following stand out:
- Listen to others when they are speaking and do not cut or interrupt their speech.
- Look the interlocutor in the eye and put all our attention on what he is telling us.
- Respond to you when appropriate.
Respect to others
Children must cultivate empathy, as well as love and respect for others from their earliest childhood. Parents have to instill and encourage all kinds of respectful behavior in our children, first by example, and then by helping them to recognize and manage their emotions and those of the people with whom they interact.
In this sense, there are many social norms that they must learn related to respect for others. These are just a few:
- Do not physically or verbally attack others.
- Do not discriminate against anyone and respect the ideas and opinions of others, as well as their religion, traditions, culture…
- Respect the personal space of each one , do not touch anyone without permission, do not invade their privacy, be discreet with the things that others tell us, do not sneak into a line, do not laugh at anyone or contribute with our silence to others mock from others …
- Do not compare yourself with others, belittle others, want to be above, get angry with friends if they beat you in a game …
Respect the belongings of others
Although this premise should be included in the general respect towards the other person , we believe it is more appropriate to talk about it independently, since respecting the belongings of others is one of the most difficult social norms to assimilate , especially at an early age.
Although when a young child takes another’s toys it is not with malicious intent, it is necessary to teach them from the beginning to respect the belongings of others , always borrow things with permission, treat them well while we have them and return them to their owner when correspond.
Likewise, we must also teach them to respect public spaces , such as swings, lampposts, benches, facades… as well as to take care of nature and other living beings.
Help those who need it
Growing up concerned about others is not only a matter of empathy and kindness, but a quality that allows people to be happier and more successful in life , to be better leaders, to adapt to difficulties that arise, and to resolve conflicts in a positive way.
Children and adults we can make life easier for the people around us with small daily gestures that make a big difference for the other. Here are some examples:
- Giving up a seat on public transport.
- Make donations when we can.
- Taking an interest in how someone is feeling, listening to them if they have a problem, helping someone who has fallen, cooperating to make work easier for other people, lending our help to those who need it…
How to teach children social norms
To begin with, and as we mentioned at the beginning, the first and most important thing is to set an example . Parents are the mirror in which our children look at themselves , so if we act with respect and comply with these basic social norms, little by little they will also internalize them and put them into practice.
But let’s not forget that learning social norms takes time and maturity. The child’s learning is an evolutionary process that requires our respectful accompaniment.
It goes without saying that rewards, punishments, yelling, threats or blackmail must be totally banished when it comes to educating a child. If we want our son to learn to be courteous, polite and respectful with others, we must first be so with him.
Children are ready to learn from birth, although it will not be until the moment they begin to understand that there are other people, in addition to themselves and attachment figures, that they begin to assimilate social norms .
Here are some tips that can help you work on social norms from home:
– Encourage your child to do good things for others and then reflect together about what we feel when we act responsibly .
– When we give way or pick up a paper that someone else threw in the park, we will explain to our son the reason why we do it. There are many examples, and surely you can find them in your daily experiences.
– ‘Sorry’, ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are three words that should never be missing in our day to day life, especially in our relationship with children. Apologizing to them when we’re wrong, thanking them for their contribution and that of other family members, and asking for things to please will allow them to integrate these basic social norms into their daily routines.
– Speak openly as a family about the positive qualities of the people around you , such as courage, generosity, compassion, humility, honesty or kindness, among others. This will allow children to identify them, recognize them in others and in themselves and value them as well.
– Hold family debates on current issues or reflect on an event that worries you, not only helps children to externalize their emotions, but also allows them to train basic aspects of interpersonal communication , such as respect for speaking turns and active listening.
– We can rely on stories, movies or cartoons that narrate situations in which people behave with honesty and respect. These types of resources are an excellent reinforcement, as they convey the idea that good actions always have consequences and bad actions even harm the person who performs them.
– Role-plays and games with dolls are another fabulous resource to teach children appropriate behavior to move in society, in addition to practicing skills such as empathy, tolerance or respect; benefits all of them are demonstrated by neuroscience.
Photos | Cover (iStock); Photo 1 (Pexels, Vlada Karpovich); Photos 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (iStock)