Manners. Are they a thing of the past? Some might say so, but I say absolutely, tootly not. Whether you are a from the North, South, East, West, or heck even the North Pole, everyone should practice good manners. I totally get that everyone views manners differently, but here in the sweet south 98% of us Southerners were raised to use our “good manners” and it was far more odd to hear a “huh?” rather than a “ma’am?” back then.
I won’t go into the ole, “When I was growing up, we…..” but I want to ponder the idea of truly, WHERE HAVE THE GOOD MANNERS GONE? Where are the young gentlemen who are taught to hold open doors for ladies…or even the person behind them? Where are the parents who demand their children use the magic words “please” and “thank you”, rather than give in to a screaming, demanding child? Where are the girls who WANT to act like a lady?
I will preface this by saying my three children absolutely have been taught manners….whether they use them when not in my presence is totally up to them. (And I worry about this quite often!!!) I get that kids will be kids, I do, but really has our society forgotten about good ole fashioned manners or the golden rule? It makes me wonder if parents just forget they actually have to teach their child manners? Or is it that we assume the kids should know them? Possibly it is just that we moms are so busy with everything else on our plate that manners fall by the wayside. No matter what the reason, I firmly believe that in order to raise productive, CARING little citizens we have to show them what good manners look like. And so we must practice what we preach.
Here are a few reminders of great opportunities to do so:
- As soon as your baby starts that adorable babbling at around 6 months or so teach them the words “please” and “thank you” when giving or receiving things (their bottle, toy, etc)! Yep, just say the word and they’ll learn it and when to use it!
- When walking through the house picking up dirty laundry and you bump into your tiny tot, a simple “Oops, excuse me!” will teach them so much.
- Eating supper with your whole family or even a quick picnic lunch outside, you can point out table manners such as coming to the table with clean hands, eating with your mouth closed, electronic devices are put away, and a commonly forgotten manner-thanking the cook.
- A trip to the grocery store can provide a great opportunity to teach many manners. No pointing or unkindly staring at something/someone that is different than us, speak when you are spoken to (using your own momma judgment here that a simple Hello to a friendly stranger in your presence is suitable), and also showing gratitude if you happen to buy your sweet one a little toy or piece of candy.
- Having an evening conversation with your husband (or anyone else for that matter) will give you the perfect time to teach your little one not to interrupt when adults are talking. I recently heard a great tip for this scenario. When your child comes to you, “Momma, momma, MOM” while you are mid conversation, take hold of their hand or wrist. This will let your child know that what they have to say is indeed important, but will be addressed as soon as momma is finished talking. (Of course, you have to explain this before hand.)
- If you are walking through the mall and your child sees something that is awfully distasteful to them and they outwardly say it, this is the perfect time to teach keeping negative comments to yourself. Raising a positive thinker is such a wonderful thing.
- This last tip is very important to me and most likely many other Southern gals. Teaching your child to say “Ma’am” and “Sir”. In my household the word “HUH?” used to be thrown around a lot. Like way too much. So now when calling upon my son and he calls back to me, “HUH?” I instantaneously say back “Ma’am!” and he corrects himself. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea with the ma’ams and sirs, it is certainly important to me and my family to teach respect for adults and the elderly.
The thing to remember with our kiddos is that they are sponges. They soak up every single bit of our good qualities and sadly our bad ones too. We must remember to teach them how we want them to act and what we hope they will say when we are not around. The most important tip I have is… praise them every time they use their manners! Positive reinforcement goes a long way and children love nothing more than to you make you proud!
Now let me go reinforce washing our hands before supper with my dirty, fresh from outside boys…