Training Your Children to be Thoughtful And Have Good Manners
My mom used to think that we would learn by example, that if she displayed the correct behavior that we would copy her actions. Most children do not learn by example, they just assume mom does it because she is mom and that is what she does. We need to verbally tell our children the correct way to do things and make them repeat the words or the action themselves. It needs to turn into a lifelong behavioral habit that they continue without you being around to remind them.
I was thinking about this all day today and it is no big deal really but it just kind of puzzles me how some people were trained or how they have made it through life thus far without the proper manners and without being thoughtful. Since you do not know me or my family then I feel free to let you in on what irked me today. My daughter, who is twenty-eight, has a boyfriend who is also twenty-eight but lives in another town about two hours away. My daughter has been living with us because my mother had a couple of major surgeries and I have a boy in college and we were juggling a lot of time restraints and financial issues so she stepped in to help. Anyway, the boyfriend was up for the weekend sleeping on the couch. He left this morning before I was up but left his blanket and sheet on the couch along with dishes on the kitchen table. And I went in the kitchen to a trash basket spilling over. Now, maybe I am thinking wrong but I do not think so. If it was me staying at someone else’s house I would have folded my blanket and sheet, taken my dishes into the kitchen and at least rinsed them off, and I most likely would have taken out the trash on my way out. He has been here enough over the past year and a half to know where things are kept. But maybe it is just me. And this young man has a couple of bachelor degrees so he is not unintelligent, just untrained!
Okay, I feel better now that I vented but this is an example of what I am talking about. This particular man is an only child and perhaps that is the reason he has not learned to be a little more thoughtful. That is all the more reason to train your child from the time they are little, especially if they are an only child.
Start from the time they are tiny making them pick up after themselves, and not just themselves but helping to pick up after others. Make your children think of you, your spouse, and siblings by not only showing them but telling them to help out in some way. Like I said from the first, children are not born thinking of others and it is not something that will just appear when they get to be a certain age. Without the proper discipline and instruction this is something that will pass them by and then other people will look at them and wonder why they were not taught.
My grandmother was forever telling my mom to “make those kids think of you!” When your birthday, Mother/Father’s Day, Christmas, or any other occasion comes around you have to tell them you would like them to make you a card or a gift when they are small. If you are married then you can have the other spouse suggest it but there are so many single parents in the world today that do not have someone else to tell the kids to think of them. It has to come from you or they will not think of anyone. You are the most important people in their lives right now and it starts with you.
I am sure we all know someone who is sitting and waiting on a response from a child on Mother/Father’s Day that never comes. They wonder why their children are not thinking of them. I know there are kids that are taught and still do not respond for one reason or another so it is not always that they are not taught. Sometimes it is because we do too much for them and they become self occupied; we do too much, give too much, and never ask for them to do anything in return because we think that when they grow up they will automatically do the right thing. It seldom works out that way. We all need to stop trying to work or buy our children’s affections and give them some character and discipline instead.
I have two children and have had so many kids coming to our home over the years. Some kids have perfect manners; you can tell they were instructed in this area. Other children are sweet as can be but do not seem to have the basic manners of “please” and “thank you”. You can watch and see which ones take their plates to the kitchen and which ones get up and run off when they are done eating. I do not know whether it is because of my age that I notice these things so much or just the way I was raised. But it sure seems like when I was growing up you did not see the lack of manners you have today.
I worked very hard to teach both my children manners. Not only please and thank you but how to act at the dinner table, how to answer the phone, how to answer the door, and how to talk to other adults and other children alike. It is very important that they learn these basic manners not only so people do not wonder what barn they were born and brought up in but also for their future. If you want your children to be able to work around people in a good environment they must know how to treat other people and in turn demand the respect they deserve. Even if they are the best educated amongst their peers if they lack the ability to be thoughtful, mannerly, and respectful of others then they will not meet their full potential and it may cause them to lose out on opportunities.
I know it seems I am going to extremes just because my daughter’s boyfriend did not fold his blanket and take over his plate. It was just a jumping off place for me and something I have been noticing more and more lately with young and old people alike. I think sometimes even though people have been taught they give up on basic manners because the world is getting lazy and they do not see the point. Do not give up on basic manners and thoughtfulness! If we let these seemingly small niceties slip slowly out of our day to day lives we will lose so much.
How many of us have had our day turned around by a kind word or a polite little child? How many times has someone looked you in the eye and smiled and it has made you so very happy? I know it has happened to me on many occasions. Just the other day I was in the grocery store and people were pushing their carts around, bumping into each other and acting as though no one else existed. Everyone is tired and wants to go home. So many times you come out of the store more irritated than you went in, but this particular day I was surprised by one beautiful, sweet smile, a young boy that went in front of me in line and actually looked up and said, “Excuse me please.”, and a cheerful, kind, and polite clerk. It makes the whole world a little brighter. And this is a gift you can give to your children, a gift that just keeps on giving to others and returning back great dividends to us astheir parents.
Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.