He's the guy opening the door for you, the one helping a stranger change a flat tire on the side of the road in the rain. He knew to give flowers on Mother’s Day without a reminder. He plays fair in relationships because he knows the value in honesty. He respects your opinions even if he disagrees with you. Before becoming prince charming, he was the boy who stood up for the underdog, the kid who knew to lead and not follow - the one who said "please" and "thank you" at the right times without an adult reminding him. Odds are, he had a mom who knew how to raise a gentleman.
Teach him to lead, not follow
No one raises a child to be one of "the sheep," following the crowd without a thought. This becomes especially touchy when older preteens and teens engage in risky behaviors. Start your son with strong roots. Give him safe opportunities to make decisions and learn from the outcome. Allow him the room, within the arms of your family, to become an independent, confident thinker.
Be a good sport
Although we would all like to, we can’t win every game. Teach your little man to be a gracious winner and in turn, to view a loss as a learning experience. Encourage him to express and channel his disappointment appropriately. Help him to learn from mistakes and urge him to use them to improve and win the next game. These life lessons are useful on and off the field. As he matures, he will have the groundwork to know how to learn from situations that didn't go his way.
Teach him respect
As he grows, your little gentleman will learn that the world is full of opinions, and those opinions won’t necessarily jive with the family values that you have instilled in him. His beliefs will be challenged; his opinions will be tried. Let him know that it is OK to respectfully disagree with someone's viewpoint and at the same time, have the confidence and finesse to stand up for his own.
Demonstrate social graces
Look others in the eye when speaking. Shake hands when the situation calls for it. Be present when interacting with others. Say simple but relevant phrases such as "hello," "goodbye," "please," "thank you," "you’re welcome," "how are you," and "good morning" when appropriate. Social graces are small and simple ways to convey a big meaning - your son has impeccable manners, as every gentleman must.
Give him an outlet for his energy
We all need a way to channel our stress and so do our children - girls or boys. Give your little man an outlet to blow off steam based on his age and interests. As he matures, your son will likely continue to find healthy ways to channel his stress and clear his mind. Good habits form early!
Let your mini-man know the importance of telling the truth and respecting confidences. Teach him the difference between keeping a dangerous secret (a friend is being physically abused) versus small confidences that mean a BIG deal to another (keeping quiet when his best friend tells him not to tell anyone about his crush on Abigail in their fifth grade class).
Show him that generosity doesn't have to be monetary. Maybe his little sister could use some help with soccer drills, or grandpa would love a hand cleaning out the garage. Get creative but keep it simple - have your two and a half year old "help" you carry the mail. Give your little gentleman chances to feel pride in a good deed, and teach him how his time can mean more to someone than any dollar amount.
Want to read more on parenting?
Browse our Nurture category!
Photo Credit: Erin G. | Little Miss Eclectic Photography