Every year, our Kindergarten and Lower Elementary classes at 2nd Nature Academy have an “Etiquette Day” right before Thanksgiving. We talk about manners in a fun and silly way and practice some old-fashioned etiquette. The students know that they don’t need to walk around with a book on their heads to be polite at Thanksgiving, but it opens up the conversation about self-presentation, listening, and treating ourselves and others with respect.
Often, when we think of manners, we think of Emily Post and her stuffy etiquette requirements—when and where to wear gloves, how the table should be set for a garden party or the correct way to address a wedding invitation. We may think that these rules are antiquated and unnecessary, and a lot of them are. What we tend to forget, however, is that at the heart of good manners is respect for ourselves and for others. Good manners make good impressions, lead to new opportunities, and make good friends… and, while we turn our nose up to how we should or should not use our fork, some simple manners are just one piece to a larger puzzle that makes our society tick.
We now live in a world where we have our eyes glued to the phone around the clock—we don’t look up and introduce ourselves, we don’t open the door for other human beings, sometimes (eek!) we aren’t even looking up to let someone through in traffic. Our children are being raised during a time when they don’t know a world where people look each other in the eye at checkout in the grocery store. But ask yourself one question: no matter the changing times, no matter what rules are antiquated, should good behavior ever go out of style?
Here are a few reasons why manners are still important:
You Can’t Be A Skilled Communicator Without Good Manners:
We’ve said this before, over here on Generation5C, but we’ll say it again: there are two sides to every conversation–speaking and listening. Teaching your children the fundamental courtesy of listening will allow them to enhance their communication skills. It shows them that a mutual respect in any conversation will make for a more effective experience.
Basic Manners Make For A Safer Environment
What if we all stopped letting pedestrians cross the road, or just decided that we didn’t feel like stopping at the four-way stop? Okay, yes, we’d get arrested… but it would also just be a much more chaotic, dangerous world. The same goes for the simple daily activities, such as standing in line calmly, opening the door for that elderly couple, and letting pregnant women take the open seat. Following simple etiquette rules can make for a less chaotic environment in everyday life.
Good Manners Make Good First Impressions
One day, your child is going to be grown up and in a job interview. Teaching basic manners is actually going to be the best preparation you can prepare them for this experience. You’d be amazed to see how many adults haven’t mastered basic manners… but you wouldn’t be so surprised to see how much a lack of good manners will affect a job interview, first impressions, and lasting impressions. Things as simple as not talking over someone else, making eye contact, writing thank you notes, and polite introductions can go a long way in making a lasting impression and standing apart from the competition.
Manners Teach Entitlement vs. Gratitude
Yes, this is the oldest one in the book and, yet, it’s not tired! Those magic words, “please” and “thank you,” are the precursors to steering your children toward gratefulness instead of entitlement. It’s important to not just teach this lesson with words, however. Inform your children on why we ask politely, wait our turn, and express gratitude. Show them that one does not simply just receive, that they need to earn rewards, treats, and nice things. Showing your children that they can have whatever they want, whether or not they deserve it, is setting them up for disaster when they are out on their own.