By Holly McElwee
Please and thank-you. Those are the “magic words.” Sounds familiar, right? Unfortunately, some of today’s kids hardly ever use these words and don’t operate in a mode of consideration and kindness towards others. Do manners matter in a modern society? Yes, and here’s why.
1. Manners teach kids to think of others first. This is the main reason to learn and use manners. It reminds us that we are not the center of the universe, and mastering manners becomes a lesson in self-sacrifice. When kids operate in a constant pattern of well-mannered protocols, they demonstrate consideration to the people around them.
2. Manners teach discipline. It’s not always easy to use good manners, and sometimes we all forget, even adults. Constant use of proper manners disciplines a child in appropriate behavior. Kids have to REMEMBER to say please and thank you. They must pause to allow people to walk in front of them. They have to stop and listen during a conversation instead of talking over those who are speaking. These are not easy tasks, but the mastery of them provides behavioral discipline.
3. Well-mannered children become well-mannered adults. An ill-mannered child will not magically become a well-mannered adult. Start teaching kids the basic tenants of well-mannered behavior at an early age. Add additional expectations as they grow older. By adulthood, they will possess all the needed social skills to function. Like it or not, the adult world is full of expectations for behavior, many focusing on manners.
4. Well-mannered children have more opportunities. Do you enjoy spending time with ill-mannered children? How do poorly mannered children affect your time in a grocery store, movie theatre, or restaurant? The fact of the matter is, no one wants to spend time with children who are rude, crude, and don’t use appropriate etiquette. On the other hand, children who are well-mannered are a joy to be around and therefore, have more opportunities before them. They are invited to go on outings with friends, their parents can easily take them to restaurants and movies, and no one complains when the well-mannered child waits his turn and doesn’t interrupt. Kids who use good manners will be asked to participate in fun activities because they’re enjoyable company.
5. Manners teach expectations and values. Parents can use the instruction of manners to instill the values they hold high. For example, teaching a child to hold a door open for another person also teaches that child to consider other people first. Teaching a child to ask for permission before engaging in particular tasks (like TV watching or going outside) enables that child to think critically about certain situations. The teaching of manners is about more than the actions; it’s about the thought process behind the action.
It’s never too late to teach your child manners. Start small and build up a collection of required behaviors that you want your child to exhibit. Be patient. As a parent you will likely spend a large amount of time reminding and instructing, but it will be worth it when your children reach adulthood with a large repertoire of manners in their playbooks.