Politeness
by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)
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Practicing good manners & etiquette

by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)
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“Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Please”, and “Thank you”

These forms of good manners are some of the most common words and phrases in the English language.

And yet, nowadays, there is a growing trend of young people who are Skipping the Dishes in a language sense.

“May/Can I have a piece of paper, please? Thank you!” has simply become “Can I have a piece of paper? [Gust of wind. Child walks away.]”.

Some students fail to greet staff as they enter, even if greeted by the adults around them.

Others just seem plain rude when they say “I want seconds.”

Still very important today

These simple things used to be paramount to common etiquette. Not so long ago, failure to do use them and use them loudly and clearly would have got you in serious trouble with the adults around you; this is for sure still the case in more traditional cultures.

Too many of us worry about our kids getting great exam scores to get into universities or the workplace, but fail to understand that poor manners will leave a poor impression.

good manners

It’s about mutual respect

I’m a firm believer in an egalitarian society. However, the scales have tipped in the other direction.

An egalitarian society isn’t about adults being subservient to children, but rather about mutual respect.

Though many kids suffer from initial shyness and intimidation talking to adults, it is essential that they learn to practice good manners with everyone around them, no matter who they are.

Adults have to model this and expect children to do likewise

Good manners requires modelling on the part of parents and teachers. If adults don’t walk the walk, it’s hypocritical of us to expect our kids to do this! Some of us aren’t great in social situations or are maybe not morning people, but we have to overcome our own challenges to model that to our children.

And, it requires us to take time to stop and ask the children to do likewise, even if the situation feels a little awkward to begin with.

For some of us, challenging (i.e. making) our children to do these things makes us feel bad. It’s a tough love approach, though. You’re doing what’s best (long term) for your child – and your family for that matter.

It helps if you start by asking your child to do this with you. Ensure that they are greeting you when they see you, and using polite language when asking for things and when showing appreciation for your efforts.

Eye contact is another example of good manners. We talk at Pear Tree about ‘connecting your string’. Practice this with your child, too.

Another good example is learning the normal conventions of conversation. If your child asks a question and then just walks away as someone is giving them an answer just seems impolite, even if it’s a developmental behaviour.

These things take time and will gradually improve. Don’t expect ‘perfection’ overnight!

However, rest assured that something that it initially challenging and intimidating will soon become much easier and second nature.