Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Matter of Manners

Does anyone teach children manners anymore? As I spent the day in Disneyland today, I was amazed at the rudeness of children while their parents looked on. Will I sound like an old person if I say that my parents would have not let me see my next birthday if I did some of the things I saw today.

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


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. My daughter and her husband are constantly teaching my grandsons manners. I'm glad I found your blog again on Joel's comments. I had been looking for you!

Anonymous said...

I am often appalled at the lack of manners, respect, and responsibility shown by our elementary aged students today. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see this happening. I think it's a sad commentary on our lives that teachers now have to fit teaching character education into an already over crowded curriculum. I try hard to model these skills for the children and compliment students when I see them behaving in appropriate ways. I hope this makes a difference but if they're living in a home where these basic skills are not valued I'm just not sure it does. I'm beginning to believe more and more that somehow we need to start mandating some parenting classes-but that would be another whole rant! For now, I'll be content that I know my own children apply good character traits and tend to hang out with friends that do as well.

Anonymous said...

Pat - I love that you posted this right now as we're working on manners with our 2 1/2 year old. She's so good at manners now that she says thank you for something and then automatically throws in the "you're welcome" too :-) Manners aren't the easiest thing to teach, but working on this with my own child has opened my eyes to how many times I forget to say please and thank you - I'm getting a lot better now!

IMC Guy said...

What in the world is up with the last comment?

Yes, kids have zero manners these days, but most of those kids also have parents with zero manners.

loonyhiker said...

IMC guy: I finally figured out how to delete that last comment. That was the first spam comment I've ever gotten, so I guess I will consider myself lucky :)