top of page

Insights From Experts

Hear what our contributing experts have to say about the importance of manners, kindness, and our program OH BEHAVE!!

Expert  Logo Jennie Cox Simple.png

Jennie Cox is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and has over 17 years experience as a special education teacher in Morgantown, West Virginia. Jennie holds a Masters degree in Elementary Education and is certified in Special Education K-12. 


Prosocial behavior is a life skill that is being taught to children from birth. When children are treated with kindness, and when they observe those around them being treated with kindness, it can boost feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism. Kindness leads to a better understanding of social interactions which, in turn, has a positive effect on learning, health and social emotional situations. Making learning about kindness fun and interactive with a program like “OH! Behave!”, is promoting lifelong learning and emotional growth! 


The old saying “Practice makes perfect!” is not exactly true…  Practice makes permanent… This is why it is so important to practice the behaviors that you want to make permanent!  It is harder to unlearn something once you have practiced it.  Catching the kiddos when they are not demonstrating kindness, explaining what they should do instead, and then immediately practicing 2-3 times in a row will help to retrain the brain! It is equally as important if not MORE important to catch them demonstrating kindness and praising them for their manners!  Using specific language about what they are doing correctly will help reinforce the manners you have observed!  For example, “Johnny, nice job using your manners and saying thank you when the server brought your drink!”

oh behave_cover_TITLE_2.png


Asking kids to clean up after themselves, which they are completely capable of doing, helps to instill discipline and a sense of responsibility.  It is important to remember to encourage them even if they aren’t doing it fast enough or “the right way”.  Cleaning up should not be looked at as a punishment!  It’s their contribution to the family!  Once they are finished cleaning up, they are rewarded with the next super fun activity!  Requiring kids to take care of their belongings and work together gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride as part of a family unit.



Making learning fun is key!  Kids love learning songs and nursery rhymes.  When kids take  “The Mannerhausen Family Oath”, they remember how it goes because it rhymes!  Call and response is another good way to ensure that they are practicing the correct words each time, which will help ingrain it into their memories!  Remember…Practice makes permanent!

long oath_1.png


Got a picky eater at home? Are your kiddos reluctant to try new foods? We’ve all been there: it can be scary to try new things. However, it can also be incredibly and deliciously rewarding. When kids eat a variety of foods at a young age, which is crucial for development, it paves the way for healthier, more diverse eating habits. It’s important that we, as parents, set that good example! How will they learn to try something new or different if their parents don’t? When adults try new things, they show kids that it’s okay to branch out. Your children will be more likely to try new foods with encouragement and positive prompting. When my kids were little, we made up a funny song to encourage them to try new foods, which we still use to this day! A fun twist instead of nagging can be more effective. If it’s still a “no go”, remind them that it’s ok to make that choice but they must use manners and kindness in doing so. Say “No thank you!”.

new foods_2.png


Please be kind!  What a great message in a sing-songy package!  Today’s kids are accustomed to screens…there isn’t much of a need to thank screens!  Practicing and modeling social etiquettes like “please” and “Thank you” goes a long way. Saying “Please” and “Thank you” encourage children to be nice to others.  Respect and trust are developed with those who display social etiquette. When my girls were little we taught them please and thank you in sign language.  Then, if there was an appropriate time for them to use these manners and they forgot, we could use the sign for please or thank you as a non-verbal prompt!



Social media, and other technology devices, have created environments in which children have a higher risk of mental health issues and are more susceptible to peer pressure. “Taking a look around you” or “social awareness” is part of Emotional Intelligence which includes important life skills such as empathy, compassion and understanding of relationships. Being able to use these skills effectively allows your child to accurately read situations around them. Encouraging your child to participate in group activities and coaching them through interactions that happen in their everyday lives are great ways to foster social awareness and help to reduce their risk of mental health issues and trouble with peers.  And as always, BE A ROLE MODEL!  BE the type of person you want your child to emulate!



Bullying is targeted and repeated words or actions that are aggressive and unwanted. If your child comes to you and says they are being bullied, listen to them, contact an adult that may have more information and can help you (teacher, counselor, another parent, coach, etc.) and be supportive!  If they know that you believe them and will help them, they will be more likely to keep you informed of the situation.  


It is EQUALLY as important for kids to understand that if someone is mean to them sometimes, or if they hurt them accidentally (playground incident for example), it is not necessarily bullying.  You will need to gather more information and keep communicating with your child.  


The term “bullying” has taken on a whole new meaning with the world of social media; cyberbullying is a real and dangerous threat!  Kids have gotten good at being sneaky and bullying on social media platforms that parents either don’t understand or don’t even know their child may have access to.  Know what they are doing with social media and online sources and check them often! Here are some helpful tips to avoid cyberbullying:


Keep the devices in common areas of the home.  We have our kids charge their phones in our bedroom overnight.  We also have the ability to control the settings of their phones such that “screen time” turns off at 9:30 on school days. They don’t have access to any apps or internet after that time. 


Learn how various social networking apps and sites work. My oldest child is a freshman in High School. She turned 15 in November, and we JUST allowed her to get snapchat in April. This is how a lot of kids communicate in high school. It is important for parents to understand how these apps work in order to keep their children safe while they use them. I now also have Snapchat and I follow her and she follows me. I find it annoying but it doesn’t matter…I need to be familiar with it.


Talk regularly and specifically with your children about online issues. We have the right, as their parents, to check their phones whenever we want in order to keep them safe. However, we don’t do that very often. We talk to them about what they do, who they talk to, what they watch…and I often sit next to them while they scroll around and watch WITH them in order to keep an eye on things. We remind them to let us know if 

they come across something that they feel is inappropriate or makes them uncomfortable. 


It is important for them to understand that they are not alone!  Bullying happens to a lot of kids but that doesn’t make it OK.  No one deserves to be bullied!  If your child is being bullied, here are some strategies to help them.

  • Remembering their self-worth. Remind them often how special they are and if someone says something mean to/about them, they should say/think something positive about themself! They can repeat a mantra such as “That’s not true.”

  • Projecting confidence. Teach your child to say how they feel in a calm, determined voice. This builds actual confidence and allows them to learn how to speak up for themselves.

  • Disarming with humor.  Being able to let it roll off their back is important!  Oftentimes it can even be comical what bullies say to try to hurt someone. Help your child see the humor in the statements!

  • Staying safe and telling an adult. If the situation makes your child feel unsafe, they should immediately find an adult that will help them address the bullying.

  • Treating others with kindness. The golden rule…treat others as you want to be treated.  It is still important and could rub off on others!



“It feels good to take pride in the place you reside.” ~ Great Granny Fum


Teaching kids to clean up after themselves takes time! Kids learn best through our examples. Let them see you turn off the water (fresh water isn’t an unlimited resource!)  and see you clean up after yourself in the bathroom. Leave it nice for the next person. Remind them that cleaning up is a part of everyday life and we all have to do our part. Make sure you point out how good it feels to be in a room after it’s been cleaned, and that once you put something back in its place, it’ll be there for the next time! That makes life easier for everyone.



Do the right thing

Try to be kind

If I make a mistake, I can rewind.


As parents, each day we are placed in many situations where we can model being kind and doing what’s right. However, we’re human and make mistakes.  It can be hard to own a mistake and recover from one. If we grapple with that as adults… imagine how our kids feel? How can we instill the ways to “rewind and be kind” after a blunder? 


We could keep quiet about the little decisions kids are making that can, over time, weaken their integrity. Or we can chime in when we observe something that can compromise character in our child’s life. Choosing the latter may not be the easiest route, but explaining our thought process in these situations will help give them the strength to “rewind and be kind” and take responsibility for their behaviors too. Especially when you’re not there to lead the way. Also, allowing them to see that we make mistakes, with the understanding that they will too, is not only ok, but an opportunity to learn and grow. 



What goes around, comes around... Maybe not immediately, but eventually, it will. And if  you set good examples by giving love, kindness, and compassion, you’ll be able to show your children examples of receiving love, kindness, and compassion in return. Paying it forward is a wonderful way to set this example! Never miss an opportunity to do something kind for someone.

bottom of page