The other day we were enjoying a family day at a local waterpark. My oldest and husband were riding waterslides while my youngest and I walked around the lazy river. My youngest was having a blast feeling the resistance of the water on his legs as he completed a motion he is still mastering. It was so fun to watch him giggle as he raised his legs and the discovery he was making about walking in water.
That is until we got bumped and bruised and bashed by the other lazy river occupants. They were in tubes, we were not, we were enjoying walking around, and we weren’t right in the middle of the path, we were staying close to the edge to avoid being in the way. These other river attendees weren’t being malicious, but it was rather annoying and made me wish for the good ol’ days when someone would have apologized or at least said “excuse me” as they bumped along.
Rant over. Mostly.
As I have observed children in several different settings, I have noticed a lack of common courtesy that society used to display. I don’t miss the days of calling friends parents Mrs. so and so, or saying “Yes, sir, or No, ma’am,” but I don’t think it’s asking too much for “Please” and “Thank-you” and “Excuse Me” from our children.
We all want our children to be respectful and grow up to be polite, courteous people. This takes practice.
The best place to practice is in the home. Children learn through repetition and modeling. I know, one more thing to add to the parenting plate.
If we don’t model polite behaviors, our children won’t pick up on them. When I was growing up we practiced polite behaviors at the dinner table. I didn’t know I was practicing these behaviors at the time, but my parents expected us to use manners as we asked for food to be passed and throughout the dinner conversation. I noticed in other friends’ homes this wasn’t always the case. I appreciated the serenity that accompanies using manners, especially at dinnertime.
Now that I’m in charge, I do my best to model polite behaviors, using “Please” when I ask my son or husband to do something, and making sure I remember to offer “Thank you” when they complete it.
I require my oldest (my youngest will when he speaks in English) to repeat a request if it was missing “Please” and I hold on to what he asked for until he remembers to say “Thank you.” It’s not much, but I did receive a compliment from his school teacher last year about his polite manners. I guess we got something right, despite the myriad of other issues we are working on.
I don’t know how the magic was placed in these words, but it still exists when we use them. I am much more willing to stop what I’m doing and help my son when he asks politely.
Teaching our children to use common courtesy is just the first step in teaching respect. Much of respect is in communication. When we communicate politely it can help diffuse a heated conversation. Using manners is also a great way to create a great first impression.
Rachael talked about avoiding raising entitled children. Read more about this important topic here.
How do you teach your children courtesy?