Are Manners Still Important?
Manners is defined as the way of behaving or a socially correct way of acting. I always told my kids in my daycare/preschool that manners go a long way. Meaning if they asked nicely, using please and thank you they would in turn receive a positive response. For example, if a child asked me to please hand them something I would make it a point to stop what I was doing to hand it to them. It’s important to respond positively when a child uses manners.
Are Manners Still Important in Today’s Society?
As society grows and changes so does the use of technology, especially for our kids. Kids have tablets, and phones and play video games at younger and younger ages. They focus on those instead of choosing to interact with the people around them.
Technology keeps us from interacting on a personal level and therefore are manners really needed? I think as an educator and daycare provider manners are needed now more than ever. As society becomes so engrossed in phones, tv, tablets, or computers it seems like we communicate with one another less. I have to be honest; I am guilty of this too.
Have you ever been at a restaurant and the kids are on their phones watching a video or playing a game while the adults are talking? Or have you, like me, been guilty of this yourselves? Sitting at a table in a restaurant can be a great teaching moment for kids, on how to interact with the waitress and family members. Family time is so important and is the best time to teach our kids how to be respectful and kind. Use this time focusing on manners, teaching kids to think about and have respect for others.
People seem to be in such a hurry nowadays. The young man I was behind was no different. He was waiting in line at the self-checkout. He was being rude because people were not going fast enough for him. When I was checking out near him, I heard him say he was a couple of dollars short. I knew I needed to be kind and I turned and handed him the money. I think he was a little embarrassed. It not only changed his attitude but he actually thanked me. Even when someone is at their worst it is so important to use manners and kindness towards them in return.
Why Are Manners Important?
Manners are a great way to teach kindness and respect. When your toddler hands you a toy it’s a great way to practice manners by saying “thank you!” If said often enough the child will learn that when something is handed to them, they say “thank you” too.
In our preschool/daycare we practiced being polite on a daily basis. Even though I feel that manners should be taught at home it is just as important that we re-enforce those habits. When we caught a child being polite, we made sure we praised them for it in front of the other kids. We thanked them and told them we appreciated it.
Manners make a lasting impression. The kids who have had the best manners have been the ones who I remember the most. Mostly I remember their kindness. Manners like anything else take practice and will eventually become a habit.
One of my preschoolers, who is now a kindergartener, has a teacher who does a great job teaching manners and respect. At the end of the day, when she is saying goodbye, she shakes each child’s hand and has them look her in the eyes and tell her goodbye. She is a safe person to practice with and what a wonderful way to show her students respect. By showing her students she cares it will carry into her classroom.
How Do I Teach Manners?
Manners are taught by example: For instance, we had kids who would take toys from other kids. This was becoming a problem. When the kids were sitting down, we did a little role-playing. I gave a child a toy and then I asked the kids what would happen if I took the toy back? How would that make the child feel? We know the answers to these questions and so did they. So, I asked the child if I could have the toy. If the child said yes then my response would have been “thank you”. But what if it was no? Then I asked the child if I could have it when they were done. The child would respond yes and within 5 minutes the child usually gave it to the child asking. Of course, the response was “thank you” when they received the toy. I would like to tell you the child who had the toy always responded yes but that was not always the case. If the answer was no, it was usually because the child with the toy didn’t want to share with the other child asking. This became another great teaching moment. We still need to be kind even if we do not want to. Eventually, as they grow, they will realize it’s important to be kind and respectful to everyone even if you don’t like them or their attitude.
Teach your little ones to wait their turn. Sometimes this is very hard for little ones because they are curious and want to do everything everyone else is doing. Keep working with them anyway. They will realize they will get to do it when it’s their turn.
Teach your child to accept compliments. I think this is one of the hardest things for kids. Mostly because I think they don’t know how to respond. I still watch some of my families. I have one little guy that has a very hard time receiving compliments. When I talked to him, I realized he just didn’t know what to say. When I told him all he needed to say was thank you I think he was relieved. It was simple and he didn’t have to think up something to say in return.
Acknowledge when your child uses manners. Sometimes we forget to tell our kids what they are doing right. We need to praise them for being kind and respectful. When one of my preschoolers used the word, please and thank you, I made sure to let them know that I noticed.
Teach your child to be a good sport. All the kids on both teams want to win. It’s important to be respectful whether they win or lose. I know in some cases this can be hard. As a parent, we need to show our children what a good sport looks like so they model your behavior and not someone else.
Before a play date at a friend’s house, talk about what you expect of them. Talk to them about following the rules in the friend’s house. Make sure they use an indoor voice like at school or in a library. Talk to them about cleaning up when they are done playing with something. If we talk to our children about what we expect from them then they won’t have to guess.
Create a positive environment where good manners are expected. Teach your children that you respect their views by listening. They will in turn learn to listen to you and others. If we keep practicing using manners with our kids it will eventually become a habit for them.
It’s also important to admit when you have handled things wrong. The kids would call me out if I forgot to say please or thank you. I would apologize and correct myself. We all make mistakes and admitting it to them makes us human.
Role-playing can be such a vital tool. I have often had kids who were in difficult situations they didn’t know how to handle. I would help them brainstorm ways to handle the situation. Often, we ended up laughing about silly things we came up with. In the end, they felt better and came away with ideas just in case it happened again.
We have made up some bonus manners cards you can use with your kids. It’s a great way to start a conversation about manners. Have your child pick one card before dinner time to discuss. While eating, discuss what the lesson is and ask everyone if they have an example of a life experience, they can share with everyone. Kids aren’t always sure how to handle situations. Let’s be honest sometimes as adults we are not sure either.
Are manners important? Yes, even with our busy schedules. Kindness and respect given go a lot farther than disrespect and rudeness. Society sometimes forgets this. Engaging with others, greeting people, and saying please and thank you may seem like little things a person can do but it makes life much easier. Practicing patience with people who may not deserve our patience is a part of being respectful.
Remember it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown. It takes less energy to be kind than to be angry and bitter. I think God designed it that way.