Manners-The Lost Art
In my waiting room, I hear (more than see) children ordering their parents around. It ranges from the obvious, “Hand me that toy” to the subtle, “I really like the toys in a Happy Meal and I am hungry” but it is there all the same. One of the first things I ask parents to do is to require their children to be polite. In the office in Broken Bow, children must first ask, “Deb, may I please play with your toys?” before any play happens. Even the most defiant child will ask by the third session. This shows me that children can and do learn to live up to the expectation of being polite. And it shows their parents that their children are capable of being respectful.
Using manners is an obvious sign of respect. It may be about respect for the person, for his/her property, or for what he/she can do. Asking someone to do something for you, without the courtesy of “Please”, is tantamount to an order. Most people do not appreciate being ordered, and this includes parents. Many children order their parents around, directly or indirectly, when they choose not to ask appropriately. Allowing this, with parents acquiescing without redirection, actually fosters the notion that this is acceptable behavior, causing more entitlement in our children. By not expecting them to exhibit good manners, we give them permission to become more self-centered with us.
I have seen children (and adults) be very respectful and appreciative to the general public, while eliminating the necessary “please” and thank-you’s” in their homes or with their families. In truth, our family and close friends are the ones we especially need to show our most courteous behaviors, as they are the ones who love us the most. Parents must be strong enough to re-direct, thus setting up the expectation.
There seems to be an obvious decline in manners in the last decade, reflecting less respect shown. As adults, we need to be able to guide the children, both with modeling and with re-direction, to outwardly exhibit manners and appropriate behaviors, showing respect to others. Being courteous, using “please” and “thank-you”, and modeling respect will help ensure that our children have the coping skills to exist in a kind, caring, and considerate world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Professional Counselor
Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist
- Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.
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