January 24, 2007 Edition

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Children and good manners

By Linda Lou Moore
Guest Writer

Is it important that a child have good manners?

Are good manners outdated or no longer needed?

Are good manners just extraneous motions that have little to do with today's society?

Good manners ~ What good are they?

Dr. Gail Saltz, "Today Show" contributor, discussed the importance of children and good manners.

"Manners show that you respect yourself and others. If children are unaware of the importance of good manners, they may be left open to embarrassment later in life when others are turned off by their poor manners. Incorporating manners into their lives, they will find people respond to them with respect and appreciation. It can make a difference between a good impression and a bad one."

Just like reading, writing and arithmetic, good manners are an important aspect to a child's education. Most parents know that children are great observers and great imitators of behavior.

Teaching good manners to your child really starts with you. Children learn by the way their parents and others communicate and act with family and friends. Showing consideration for others are the basic building blocks of good manners. When a child grows up hearing "please" and "thank you," it is much easier for him, or her, to incorporate those words when talking with others.

Age appropriate manners

What are age appropriate manners? Usually around the age of two and a half or three, a child can use "please" and "thank you," when asking for something. Of course, the use of these "magic words," comes from constant repetition. By the age of three or four the introduction of common courtesies such as showing respect for others, kindness and sharing are important. These behaviors are the cornerstones of good manners.

Using good manners can help an older child feel comfortable in many different types of situations. When understanding this, "the rules of the game" make sense. Whether they are called good manners, common courtesies, or by the new terms such as "life skills," "life strategies" or "empowerment choices," here is a quick overview of a few things parents should know when teaching an older child:

And, of course, teaching a child respect, means treating a child respectfully.

When it's no longer cute

Like the term, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," so is behavior.

You're not doing your child a favor by not teaching the importance of good manners. In fact, the opposite is true. The "antics" of young children in the privacy of your home may seem "cute," at first. However, those "antics" may take on a different perspective if the action or conduct is repeated in the presence of others who don't find the behavior "cute" at all. While you may think "they're just being kids," others may form negative opinions based on the behavior that has been neglected ~ by those who love him the most.

Most children want to know the same things as grownups do. Both children and adults want to know what to do, or what to expect in certain situations. All of us, no matter our age, find ourselves in particular circumstances where what we say or do is important. Knowing what to do or say enables us to feel comfortable and to make others feel comfortable. Christmas is over, and the presents have been given, don't forget or overlook the last, good manners ~ What a gift!

Quote of the day: "Good manners adorn knowledge, and smooth its way through the world." ~ Lord Chesterfield

Linda Lou Moore of Paragould is trained and certified by The Protocol School of Washington, Washington, D.C. She offers customized individual and group etiquette programs for children, teens and adults. She may be reached at Post Office Box 145, Paragould, AR 72451 or at manners@grnco.net.

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