When people were trying to get out of a store or restaurant, children were pushing their way in with their parents right behind. When we on the train at one of the stops, I saw two teenage boys practically push an elderly man down trying to get in front of him to get a seat. Again, their parents were not far behind and nothing was mentioned about this. Of course I saw it as poetic justice that there weren’t enough seats for all of them and they had to go back and wait for another train while the elderly man had gotten a seat. Children who got cranky were hitting their parents or yelling at them.
I started to think of the simple manners that many of my students didn’t know but needed to be taught. Maybe their parents don’t know these either but someone has to break the cycle so I taught these simple rules. I first gave them these in writing as a reading assignment. Then we picked one a week and really focused on doing that one thing above all (but if they did the other things too, that was good!) I actually made it into a game and put their initials on the board at the beginning of the week and I would put a mark down each time I noticed if they did that one thing. Usually they let me know if they did it and I forgot to mark it down. At the end of the week, I would give a reward to the one with the highest score (library pass, HW pass, computer time etc.) If you have any to add, feel free to add them in the comments.
1. Chew with your mouth closed.
2. Let people off the bus/elevator before getting on.
3. Let people out of a doorway before you try to enter the building.
4. Hold the door for others.
5. Say thank you when someone does something for you.
6. Pick food out of your teeth in the restroom, not at the table.
7. Offer your seat to the elderly whenever there are no seats available.
8. Say “excuse me” when you burp or pass gas.
9. Say “please” when you ask someone to do something for you.
10. Look at people when they talk to you or you talk to them.
Photo credit: Mind Your Manners by Claire Wallace (1953) by Ann Douglas