Holy Lack of Decorum, Batman! What has happened to children’s manners these days? When Fred Astaire said, “the hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any”, I wonder if he was looking into a crystal ball. Our society seems to have lost its civility. In fact, people can be downright rude! We see it in road rage, in restaurants and in basic, day-to-day interactions with other people. So it’s no wonder that our children suffer from the trickle-down effect of this poor behavior.
Having good manners boils down to 3 things: respect, awareness and empathy for others. Society today is without a doubt much more informal than when many of us were growing up, from the way we address elders to relaxed and casual dress, but it doesn’t mean that manners can just be summarily tossed aside. Good manners are critical and will set children apart from their impolite counterparts, as well behaved children tend to get along better with their peers, have a better rapport with their teachers, and down the line will be well more readily accepted in the workplace and in different social situations. Manners are also necessary for fostering things like social emotional skills in the classroom, building self-confidence and interacting with other cultures – especially in settings and locations where manners and etiquette are compulsory. In today’s world, we can visit a neighboring community and experience a different way of living, so the sooner kids are aware of their surroundings, the better.
Parents are the key to making good manners happen, so it’s essential that we build the foundation in the home. We need to model good behavior for our children to follow so it becomes routine. Yes, it’s a 24/7 commitment that starts in the early years, but encouraging this good behavior will pay dividends when you realize that your child is well received, stands out and is and able to fit in anywhere! Below is a list of manners and tips.
BASIC MANNERS EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW:
- Say please, thank you and you’re welcome.
- Look someone in the eye when you say hello and shake hands.
- Address adults properly – Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., etc.
- Respect other people’s belongings and homes (i.e., don’t enter without knocking, don’t touch things that don’t belong to you without asking, no jumping on furniture, etc.
- Help others – hold a door open, as a guest offer to set or clear a table, and lend a hand.
TIPS FOR HELPING KIDS REMEMBER THEIR P’s & Q’s:
- Make manners fun by exaggerating them – use ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ at any given opportunity. Say things such as ‘why thank you, young lady/young man.’ Kids will get the hang of it quickly.
- Say hello to your child and exaggerate the eye contact and firm handshake.
- Post a list of basic manners on your fridge.
- Prep your child with a list of reminders before playdates and sleepovers. It will help solidify good behavior and make it more routine.
- Model good behavior – help an elderly person with an errand, be kind to people you meet in your daily routines, extend that common courtesy for your children to see!