Teaching Children Good Manners: Is Freedom Good?
Last week in my newsletter, I mentioned that my children knew how to behave in nice restaurants because they had been exposed to the atmosphere at an early age. My idea of well behaved might be different from yours, however, I think there are certain basics that are important and universal.
When my daughters were babies, we would take them wherever we went. If they began to fuss or cry, one of us would promptly remove them from the room/restaurant/market/wherever. Not because we felt their crying or fussing was a bad thing. No, it's a perfectly normal occurrence for infants and toddlers. We removed them as a courtesy to others who we felt did not need to be as tolerant as we were with our children's noise. In consequence, my daughters know that other people are not as wildly in love with their racket or with them as we are. Nor should they be expected to be.
As our children grew older, they were always told the rules of our outings, how to behave and to always speak softly if other adults were present. Sometimes, it's fine to let them get a little crazy... just know your audience! If we are at a five star restaurant where many other diners have come to enjoy a gracious and expensive meal, would we expect everyone there to be enthralled with junior's vocal or behavioral outbursts? Would we really expect them to care if our child is having a bout with walking pneumonia and coughing uncontrollably? Nope. It's rude. And rudeness is basically nothing more than bad manners. If there is an emergency with your child, by all means don't give a flying flamingo about what others think. But this is the exception. Besides, children who are that sick belong at home, not in public.
Last night, my girls and I were in a department store. There was a toddler carrying on and screaming for more than 15 minutes when my younger daughter said: "Now his mommy is going to tell him to stop because there are other people in here that don't want to hear it!"
Unfortunately, his mommy did not tell him any such thing. She let him wail and scream and cry, much to the chagrin and annoyance of everyone else in the store. You know what? As much as I love kids and cannot bear to see or hear them suffering, I disliked this kid immensely!
My reasoning is this: if our kids learn that they are free to trample on the peace, space or rose gardens of others, they will develop into spoiled and inconsiderate brats. And then who will like them? Who will want to spend time with them? Who, besides their forgiving parents, will be able to tolerate their lack of social graces and good manners? No one, except maybe another ill-mannered person who feels at home with a similarly clueless individual. Do we really want our children reduced to such horrible options? I think not.
We teach our children not to steal, lie or punch their brother in the nose. Shouldn't we teach them respect for others at the same time? That their whining and out-of-control behavior is something no one really wants to hear or witness, especially strangers who have no vested interest in their developing minds or self-esteem? A simple reminder of the rules, consistently, works wonders ... eventually.
Good luck. Kids need to learn manners and social graces. They will go farther in life if we teach them well.
Copyright 2000-2004- Rexanne Mancini
About The Author
Rexanne Mancini is the mother of two daughters, Justice and Liberty. She is a novelist and a freelance writer.
This page is updated on March 14, 2013