On the subject of manners

children-playing-329234_1280Last year one of my girlfriends had a ‘mummy at kindy’ day. As she watched her son, another child came up and roughly wrestled the toy he was playing with away. Since she was standing next to the mother of said child, she waited for her to correct her son rather than stepping in. Nothing happened. At pack up time she noticed the same boy chose not to put anything away. He refused to sit on the mat at story time, instead wandering off and pulling out something of his own choosing to play with. He refused to have a sleep too. Quite astounded, my friend asked this mother whether her son was ever made to use manners or do anything he didn’t choose to do. “Oh no!” replied his mummy, “We only ever ask X if he’d like to do things. We wouldn’t break his spirit by making him do something he didn’t want.”

Manners and discipline aren’t popular concepts these days. In fact, several of my teaching friends inform me it’s now illegal for them to insist a child uses manners in the classroom. Really? We’re that committed to growing a generation who are self-centred, lazy and have no skill in working with others?

Good manners are an important thing for everyone to learn. Being able to act appropriately is respectful and shows consideration for others. Learning to do more than scream for your needs to be met has always been seen as a developmental step from baby into childhood and beyond. Excellent manners can help you have better relationships with those you know and more likely success with others you meet. Using manners conveys respect to those you interact with and commands it from them as well. It indicates you understand that other people have rights too.

The opposite of good manners is pushing to the front of the queue, talking over other people, cutting in front of other cars, not cleaning up after yourself … the list goes on. It’s unpleasant dealing with people like that, it creates stress and it puts extra work on you.

Unfortunately there’s an increasing number of adults who still live with the childhood delusion that they can exist without showing manners to you – though I note they mostly think manners should be shown to them! The best way to deal with this self centred behaviour is to allow such people to feel the consequences of their actions and for others to do the same. Don’t rescue them when they’re late, pick up behind them or allow them to take what’s yours, whether it’s a place in the queue or your happiness. This should apply at work and home. You have to work for your rewards; let them do the same.

It’s not rude to do that: it’s keeping healthy boundaries and perspective. That pre-school mother who tidied up behind her son each night and bent her life round what he felt like doing/having/being wasn’t doing him any favours. I bet even she’ll be over it by the time he’s 20. And the rest of us aren’t interested in doing it now!

Good manners help you live well in the land of reality. Please use them and help others to do the same.

Thank you for reading this post so nicely!