How to Raise a Gentleman

Three Parts:Set Up a Value SystemConnect with HimShow Him How It's Done

Raising a gentleman can be an intimidating task, but the hard work and effort you put into it is well worth it in the end. You'll need to know which values to teach him, and once you straighten that out, you also need to figure out what to do to really imprint these values on him thoroughly. Of course, throughout the entire process, you must lead him by example.

Part 1
Set Up a Value System

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    Promote good listening skills. A gentleman knows how to listen to others. Teach him to wait his turn to speak instead of allowing him to interrupt others during a conversation. You also need to give your son the courtesy of listening to him when he is trying to tell you something.
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    Instruct him on being friendly and personable. Your son might be a little on the shy side, but even if this is the case, he still needs to know how to be friendly with people who do come into contact with him. At minimum, let him know how important it is to make eye contact with others and to smile when greeting them.
    • Explain why simple gestures, like smiles and eye contact, hold value. Smiling puts people at ease and eye contact creates a connection between two people.
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    Teach him to be a leader. In today's world, there are so many bad influences that your son could easily fall prey to one if he is in the habit of being a follower instead of a leader. By teaching him to be a leader, you can help him to do that which he knows to be right instead of doing wrong just to blend in with the crowd.
    • One way to encourage him to take a leadership role is to put him in that role from time to time. Have him make a decision that will affect the whole family. For instance, you might ask him to decide on what movie to watch or where to eat for dinner. Coax him into considering each family member as he makes his decision and gently guide him into making a smart choice. By the end, though, you need to let him feel that the choice was ultimately his.
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    Help him to be a good sport. There will inevitably come a day when your son will have to deal with loss or disappointment. The first time this happens, you need to teach him about being a good sport to those who won out over him.
    • A simple way to encourage good sportsmanship is to have him shake hands with the person he played against.
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    Encourage your son to use good manners. Good manners are a physical manifestation of an attitude of respect. Manners can include formal issues, like the use of polite language or proper behavior at the table, but they also include more common issues, like listening to and respecting one's elders.
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    Emphasize the importance of honesty. A gentleman will be honest with those around him. Encourage your son to tell the truth and, on a similar note, also help him to understand the importance of keeping his word once he has made a promise.
    • When your son gets caught in a lie, talk to him about why lies are hurtful and why honesty would have been the better option. You should also make sure that the consequences of lying outweigh those that would have followed had your son been honest to begin with.
    • Make sure that your son is not afraid of telling you the truth. You need to discipline him when he does wrong, of course, but you also need to be understanding.
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    Let him develop a generous spirit. Generosity is one of the key components of gentlemanly behavior. Teach him to forgive wrongs committed against him.[1] Encourage him to help others and to care for the weak, even if it means inconveniencing himself.
    • To build a sense of empathy, talk to him about considering how others might feel in a certain situation. Start with fictional situations by asking him how certain characters in books or on television might feel. Gradually move into real-life situations by asking him to consider the feelings of those around him at specific moments.
    • Teach him about various forms of generosity. When an elderly person gets on a bus, offer your seat and encourage your son to do likewise. If a friend needs help moving, lend a hand and bring your son along to do the same. When your son is old enough and less wary of strangers, you and he can also volunteer a few hours at a soup kitchen or nursing home.
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    Foster a steady work ethic. Teach your son to try his hardest and to avoid quitting even when things get tough.
    • Once your son commits to a sport or other activity, make sure that he sticks it out for the season, even if he stops enjoying it halfway through.
    • If he starts to have trouble in school, work with him on finding new ways to make the material more interesting and easier to comprehend.
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    Teach him to turn away from vice.[2] Temptations lurk in the shadows for everyone. If your son is to have any hope of becoming a gentleman, you need to instill in him the importance of resisting temptation and doing what he knows to be right.
    • At its earliest stage, temptation can come in the form of losing his temper or taking a playmate's toy. Correct these behaviors as soon as you spot them. The earlier you begin, the easier it will be for him to resist other temptations later on.

Part 2
Connect with Him

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    Maintain realistic expectations. Understand that boys are capable of different behaviors at different ages. Before you get frustrated with what your son can and cannot do, ask yourself if you are expecting too much from a boy who is still too young.
    • For example, from ages 1 through 3, boys should be able to learn the basics about manners. These basics include simple tasks like saying "please" and "thank you." Matters that require you to teach your son about being considerate will usually need to wait until age 5 or 6, though. At that point, you can have your son perform tasks like clearing the table or making eye contact as he speaks.[3]
    • You also need to be mindful of your son's personality. If your son is naturally on the quiet side, do not pressure him to be more outgoing than he feels comfortable with. Adding pressure to the process may backfire and cause him to rebel.
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    Turn ordinary events into lessons. There are learning opportunities around every corner. Whether you are out on the town or at home, when the change to teach him some form of gentlemanly behavior pops up, make the most of it. Do not rely solely on planned lessons.
    • For instance, if a stranger in a store suddenly starts using rude language within an earshot of your son, ask your son to tell you why that sort of language shouldn't be used and do a quick review on saying polite words like "please," "I'm sorry," and "thank you."
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    Require prompt action. When you son is young, make sure that the lessons you give him can be completed within a short period of time. Do not allow him to put things off until a later time. Instead, insist that whatever you have instructed him to do will be done at that moment.
    • For example, if you tell your son to put away his toys, make sure that he does so right after you tell him.
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    Practice at home. You might be tempted to be a little lax on your instructions in the privacy of your own home, but if you expect him to be a gentleman to the outside world, you must first insist that he is a gentleman at home.
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    Give him an outlet.[4] Giving him constructive ways to use that energy can prevent blow-ups and sudden fits of misbehavior.
    • If your son has an interest in physical activities, consider getting him involved in sports of some sort. On the other hand, if his energy is more of the creative sort, give him opportunities to stimulate his mind and curiosity.
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    Reward and affirm positive behavior. When your son acts in a pleasing manner, it is absolutely crucial that you let him know he did well. This is important no matter what age your son is and at what stage of the growing process he's in.
    • Affirmative words are the simplest form of reward, and in some ways, they can be the most effective. This is true when your son is in his toddler stage straight through to adulthood. When your five-year-old son makes his bed without being asked, tell him how pleased you are and how proud you feel. Similarly, when your 16-year-old son refuses to cave into peer pressure by cheating on a test or bullying a kid who gets picked on by his other peers, praise him and tell him how immensely proud you are of his decision.

Part 3
Show Him How It's Done

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    Be a role model. Teach him about the values and behaviors he should honor by demonstrating those virtues in your own life. Be someone positive that your son can look up to.[5]
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    Work as a team with other caregivers. Whether you have a traditional family structure or not, there are probably other caregivers in your son's life. Talk over your concerns with these other influences and ask them to reinforce the values you are trying to build in your son.
    • The primary influences in your son's life need to be on the same page so that he does not get conflicting messages. This includes both parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who are heavily involved in his life, and teachers.
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    Limit potentially harmful influences. While you cannot protect your son from all bad apples, you can do what you can to make sure that the harmful influences he faces will not gain power over the positive influences he has. Restrict harmful media and encourage your son to make good friends.[6]
    • At a young age, try to network with other parents who have sons of a similar age. Make sure that these families share similar values and are equally committed to raising young gentlemen. In this way, you can make sure that your son's earliest friends will be good influences.
    • You do not have to prevent your son from viewing or listening to all media that could be potentially harmful. Discern when your son might be old enough to understand why certain things are wrong, though, and talk with him after he views such media so that he knows why certain behaviors should not be repeated.
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    Tell stories about gentlemen. Give your son positive role models to look to in books, television, movies, and other media. As sources of entertainment, these influences are appealing and can have a lot of sway.
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    Balance male and female influences. Your son needs to be exposed to good role models, and you should make sure that he has both male and female influences in his life. Boys often look at older guys as examples of how they can—or how they should—be. Since there will be older male influences no matter what, you can take the initiative and provide positive ones, regardless of your family circumstances.
    • Female influences can teach boys about treating girls their own age as any gentleman should. By making sure that your boy treats female friends and family members with respect while he's young, it will be easier for him to look at girls with the same sort of respect upon reaching puberty.

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