It's time for another Book Chook rant. I honestly try not to interrupt my emphasis on children's literature, literacy and learning too often. However, I did it recently with Say NO to Bullying, and here I am with a rant today about teaching kids manners.
Bullying is such a huge issue and its consequences are so devastating, isn't it trivializing it to group it with manners? I'm sorry if you think that's the case. But perhaps if we help kids to learn the real reason to have good manners, we would have less bullying.
So what is the real reason? Why are manners important?
I believe that using good manners is the oil that keeps our society moving smoothly. Whether at home or at the global level, being human enough to admit mistakes, asking for something politely, sharing resources and collaborating are all skills that enable peaceful co-existence.
By teaching kids good manners, we are teaching them respect for others. That to me is the real reason behind good manners. By using words like "thank you", "please" and "I'm sorry", kids become less egocentric and begin to realize that they are not the centre of the universe. They acknowledge the importance of others in their lives, and reach out to them. They learn not to snatch, not to tantrum when they don't get their own way and to empathize with other people.
We're also teaching them a communication skill that will help them find their way in life. It works with all ages and levels of society. I believe it needs to be ingrained early into children's lives, by parents modelling good manners themselves, and insisting on good manners from when kids can talk. (I found a cute free manners chart for kids on the Story Time website. Check out the episodes while you're there.)
What's your view? Are manners old-fashioned, and my concern about them simply a by-product of my advancing years? Do you teach your children manners, at home or in the classroom? Any tips for others? What's important to you about manners?
Cartoon made by bookchook at Toon Doo.