Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I think manners are really important in children.
Of course you need to be realistic – you can’t expect pre-schoolers to be immaculately behaved all the time, and tantrums are part of growing up. But I do believe the basics can be taught from a very young age, so that they are already in place for when the child grows older, and more responsible.
Like encouraging them to say ‘Yes, please’ and ‘No, thank you’, and to always be grateful. Instructing them not to answer back (in a rude manner I mean – I’ll always encourage my kids to question decisions, or instructions, they genuinely don’t agree with). Teaching them – this is one we’re battling with at the moment – that they must wait patiently to speak while grown-ups are talking.
But it’s kinda hard to expect the kids to behave politely when the parents don’t seem to possess a single manner between them!!
The other week the Monkey Family visited a local park. Big Sis had a brand new bubble mower which we took with us. She was busy pushing it across the grass and chasing the bubbles when a little boy ran over – he must have been about four.
Without a word he grabbed the mower, and began pushing it in the other direction. Big Sis did what all nearly three-year-olds do in that situation. She stopped short, looked a little gobsmacked, then started wailing. ‘Shhhhhh,’ I hurriedly told her. ‘It’s OK, we can let the little boy play with the mower for a while. It’s nice to share.’
I could see Mum coming over, and didn’t want her to feel awkward about her son’s behaviour. He was just a kid after all. But rather than apologising, as I assumed she was coming over to do, she just kind of shrugged at me, and started trailing after her son – who was now zig-zagging wildly across the park.
I watched in disbelief as she just slowly wandered off behind him, without a word of explanation to us, or reprimand to her son. Being the ‘polite’ person I am, I didn’t want to make a scene, so I distracted Big Sis with a fruit stick, while silently seething.
About 10 minutes later the boy finally tired of our mower. While he ran off, probably to find another kid’s toy to hijack, Mum simply dragged it over to where we were sitting, dumped it down, and walked off without a word.
Now, am I being precious, or is that incredibly rude??
One thing is for sure – with Mum setting such a great example in manners, or lack thereof, her obnoxious son doesn’t stand a chance!