Parenting skills go beyond teaching your child to say, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. Teaching a child what behavior is expected is a daily process, and you will have many opportunities each day to steer your child in the right direction.

One key point to remember is to teach, not reprimand. It is easy to assume that your child is just being bad when, in fact, he just needs a lesson or two from you on the correct behavior. Be specific when you teach your child and remember that follow-up lessons are necessary.

Instead of saying, “Don’t be so discourteous!” you can say, “It’s impolite to belch at the table, but if you do, you should say ‘excuse me’.

Rephrase. When your child states her feelings in a less-than-polite way, you can rephrase what she already said in the way you find acceptable. So if she says, ‘I hate this green stuff!” You can politely correct her by saying, “What you should say is, ‘I don’t like spinach.”

Accept mistakes. When kids are young they will spill, drop, and break things. It takes time to acquire the motor skills necessary to be neat and tidy. Children will make social blunders. It takes maturity to learn how to act in social situations. Accept age-appropriate mistakes for being simple childish.

Correct privately. As annoying as your child’s lack of manners may be, resist the urge to reprimand him in front of other people. Making a scene as you attempt to teach your child proper manners can just be bad manners on your part.

Expect good manners. When you know your child has learned the proper way to behave it is important to expect those good manners. Be consistent. Require good manners every day. Remind gently. And over time you will find your children turning into proper ladies and gentlemen.

Take charge. Simply give yourself permission to be in charge and begin expecting your children to obey you. With this solid foundation, you will build a loving, trusting relationship with your children. More importantly, you will be able to lead your children into adulthood with values, wisdom, and life skills that only a strong, supportive parent can impart.

Use rules and routines. If you have very specific rules and routines you will find that things flow more peacefully. If you don’t, then expect chaos. It is well worth the time and effort to establish family priorities, rules, and schedules for the usual daily routines.

None of us are born knowing how to be parents. We can love our kids with our whole heart and soul, but we are not born with a gene that gives us an instinctual knowledge of all the right answers, nor do we automatically know how to solve daily child-rearing problems. But you can confident that your parenting skills with grow with time.