Sunday, September 7, 2008

Teach Your Children Well

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.
-Emily Post

I was always frustrated by those who made an issue of which fork to use, what order should be used to introduce someone, and the formality of a receiving line. But I have always been an advocate of manners that protect one from infringing on the comfort and enjoyment of others. I have always encouraged my children to say please and thank you and to wait for others to go first.

I find that I am one of the few parents that feels this way. My children don't have too many rude friends. They don't tolerate rudeness. But I see a new generation in which common courtesy is sorely lacking.

I began noticing this in classrooms. I frequently have teachers that ask me to observe in their classroom to help with discipline issues, especially in classrooms of two year olds. I began to see a pattern. Discipline issues seemed to occur in classrooms where please and thank you were never encouraged. As I modeled for the teachers, the tone of the classroom changed. They were amazed that encouraging children to say please or thank you to their peers or teachers could make such a drastic change. They report later that it really makes a difference. Now, this is not the be all and end all of addressing discipline with children but it is certainly one of the basics that you have to have.

Yesterday, my daughter and I were shopping. She was looking for a birthday gift for a friend. We went to a new store called "Bath Junkie", a wonderful store where you blend your own scent to be added to a variety of bath products. The staff were very friendly and helpful. There was a two sided "blending station" in the center of the store with 4 stools where one can sit and experiment with different oils to make a personalized scent. There was a party going on at the time, a group of about 10 girls that seemed to be 9 or 10 years old. There were also a few parents with them. The girls were everywhere and loud which really didn't bother me or my daughter as we work around children every day. The staff member, Casey, apologized. We said it was okay.

Casey showed us around, explaining each of the products and helping us pick out a gift as well as to choose something for ourselves. "When you get ready to use the blending station, let me know and I will ask the girls to move around to one side." We chose some lotion and bath salts and headed for the blending station. Casey asked one of the girls to scoot over a little so I could sit down on one of the empty stools. I thanked the young lady and began experimentation. My daughter stood beside me to the side of the table.

The girls ran from side to side, reaching across my body to get to the oils on the opposite side. It was stressing my daughter OUT. She walked away. The girls then reached across from that side. One of the moms stood beside me. She reached her arm across my right side to pick up oils, talking loudly the whole time to her daughter. Like mother, like daughter. My daughter walked back over and said "Okay, can we go?" I was done. I went to Casey and asked her if we could come back in an hour. She apologized again and said she would hold our items until we returned. And we did return about 2 hours later. We had fun and love our new products.

Do not email me and tell me that they are just children, excited, having fun. That is why I didn't leave as soon as I saw them. But when parents don't correct behavior and make children aware that there are other customers, the behavior never changes. Then we see them as teenagers in the mall, carrying on loud conversations and cursing as they run into you because they were'nt watching where they were going. They become the drivers who forcefully squeeze their car into the merging traffic at the last minute or "steal" that parking place as you so patienly wait for someone else to pull out. Here they are with the world revolving around THEM.

Please, Thank You, Excuse Me. Teach your children well.


Katie Carney said...

Oh, Tere, I AGREE!! Everywhere we go people are always telling me how polite and well-mannered my children are. Well, they just act the way everyone SHOULD's not really a big deal or difficult to teach them to be courteous of others...seems to me it should be human nature.

Wanda said...

Oh Tere ~~ I couldn't agree more.
I have nine grandchildren, and to I am eternally grateful that my adult children have remember their own bring up.... and have taught my grandchildren manners.

I have been treated so rudely by children at Mac Donalds playground for goodness sakes, and other public places.

This was an excellent post, and well needed.... Wish all parents could read it.

Please and Thank You!!

Ruth D~ said...

Something has fallen by the wayside . . . and in its place is the child on a throne. We should never reprimand lest we "hurt" them. How wrong. I hope parents, who sincerely love their children, love them enough to raise them with an eye to other's feelings.

Anonymous said...

This is so true. I have taught my grandson to say excuse me when he walks in front of someone and you would be amazed at the adults who don't even bother to acknowledge his politeness. He opens the doors at the store (if he's strong enough) and people are amazed. What is so difficult about teaching your child manners!

Thanks for this.