The use of manners has been noticeably declining for the past few years. A couple of times over the past couple of years at my children’s school I have held the door open for a number of bus loads of children only to have a handful say thank you. The number of children who didn’t say thank you was startling to me. So what’s leading to this decline in the use of manners? It is my feeling that the change in the way families operate today has been the primary factor in the lower use of manners these days.
With more and more parents working more these days it leaves less time for them to spend with their children teaching them the important lessons of life. Quite often children are placed in before and after school care with many other children. Providers of these services can often be overwhelmed with the number of children in their programs, leading to constant conflict resolution issues and emergencies needing to be attended to. This can lead to less of a personal experience for teaching our children manners.
Parents feel the exhaustion of being at work all day to provide for their families with the ever-increasing budgets. When they get home, they want to relax and don’t necessarily have the time to teach their children the small little life lessons that are required.
I remember being in a restaurant in Florida when my oldest son was 3 years old, and during our meal an elderly couple took the time to come and talk to my wife and I about how well-behaved our son was. They were ultimately impressed by his ability of using please and thank you when talking to the waiter and to us. They told us then, they noticed the decline in the use of manners in children today. That was 10 years ago, I can only imagine the problem is still getting worse.
So how do we fix this issue? How do we help our children learn manners? How do we help ensure that they use them on a regular basis? All great questions!
It starts with us! The first thing you have to do is to be the role model or the example for your children. Children often learn by watching adults. If we set a good example it will also be a good example for them to follow. I can’t count the number of times I’ve held the door open for an adult at the mall with nothing being said in return for holding the door open. Secondly we need to point out the times that manners are used and why they are important. When we start to recognize when and why manners are being used it helps our children to understand and start to use those same skills that we are using. This helps to emphasize the need in our children for using these skills. And lastly, when a time that your child forgets to use their manners pops up politely remind them of the need for them and when they use them be sure to praise them for using their manners. This praise will help enforce the good behaviors you want to install in your children.
There are a lot of parents out there that are doing a fantastic job of instilling these lessons inside of their children, I’d like to see even more of us stepping up and helping out the Next Generation.