I’ve shaken my head and wondered…
Why do children as young as five years old feel completely comfortable sassing a lady in her seventies?
Since when was it ok for kids to grab other people’s food and eat it?
Since when was it ok for kids to yell curse words at their aunts, uncles and parents?
Since when was it ok for kids to tell parents, teachers or grandparents, “Shut up!”?
Since when was it ok for kids to snatch up food at dinner, walk to their rooms and close the door without a word of thanks?
As I ponder these questions I can’t help but remember that twenty years ago this type of behavior wasn’t prevalent.
Twenty-five years ago people were shocked if they heard a ten-year-old yell a curse word.
It’s incredibly sad.
Classic manners are disappearing in modern kids. Our kids.
Public restaurants are overflowing with ill-mannered children that throw food, scream and yell demands at their parents and grandparents. It’s so common that such behavior rarely causes a scene anymore. We’re kind of “waiting” for it to happen.
But so few people tell us why these classic manners are disappearing.
No one has stood up and proclaimed, “Want to see your child become mannerly and respectful? Let’s talk!”
Instead, people roll their eyes, mumble under their breath or give us a weak I’ve-been-there-too-smile.
But something needs to change.
We can’t change every kid in the world, but certainly we can create a little corner of mannerly kids in our own homes, right?
I highly recommend taking a few moments to read this post about things parents of good kids always do. It’s a huge help to parents who are struggling with behavior issues. Oh, and another parenting article that’s gaining ground is this where we chat about popular parenting tips that create bad behavior. You definitely want a sneak peak at that one!
But first, let’s talk about WHY classic manners are disappearing…
It’s really quite simple.
There’s no extensive reasoning or formula that we need to dig into to see the “why.”
The “why” we’re looking for is quite close and personal.
The “why” is so simplistic that we often miss it.
Here’s what I think the why is…
The “why” is simply that modern kids are not being taught these classic manners.
We’re probably one of the busiest generations of parents.
Most families have two separate incomes coming in.
That means two parents heading in two separate directions and a set of growing and learning kids are heading in an additional third.
It’s daily chaos as we try to schedule school drop-offs, plan our weekly meals and make sure all the credit card bills are paid on time.
Sometimes we simply forget about teaching kids manners.
Manners are still important to us — but so are our job obligations, meal planning and day-to-day responsibilities.
And teaching proper manners goes waaaay beyond telling kids “Stand up straight!”
“Close your mouth when you’re eating!”
and “Stop dragging your feet!”
That’s not truly teaching.
That’s talking. That’s demanding.
We’re talking about teaching.
By constant life lessons.
Rinse and repeat. :)
Our tiny, beautiful babies did not wail their first cries and screams with the knowledge of “quiet voices in the hospital.”
When they started taking their first steps, they had no idea that some people prefer visitors to remove their shoes or wipe their feet before entering their home.
When our young children took their first bites of smashed, overly bland peas, they were unaware you’re not suppose to show the contents in your mouth mid-chew.
Common courtesies and manners are something that have to be taught — and the earlier, the better.
I’ve created a fun printable set that you can download and print today. Because I want you to be able to teach your kids in a fun, super-easy way.
And I’ve learned that rewarding good behavior makes parenting miracles happen. Everybody wants to sit still and quiet when mommy waves a Butterfinger candy bar in the air…right? I’ll even sit quiet for one of those!
Print out the two classic manners charts below.
Then, cut each card. (I recommend using cardstock paper!)
Read the cards with your child and explain to your child classic manners.
For each day the your child is really excelling in one, two, or three of these manners, put the card on the fridge. At the end of each week, your child gets one prize per manners card!
Prizes are totally up to mom and dad.
Why teach our kids classic manners?
We need to teach our kids that we are all visitors in this world.
None of us own the entire world, so we should treat every area where we live, walk or dine with extra respect.
When we teach our kids manners early in life, it also teaches them that other people matter. They learn quickly that they are not the center of the universe. This, in turn, aids them in becoming level-headed adults” — experienced mother of four.
Another mom adds, “I want my kids to politely sit with me in restaurants and at other gatherings. I am not about to take them to these places without training them how to do this at home,” chimes in another mom of three.
It is never too early to start teaching manners.
Here’s a solemn truth: you’re already teaching your kids manners by the way you’re living.
Do you yell “shut-up!” to your spouse or parent?
Then is shouldn’t be shocking when then repeat that phrase to you.
Do you constantly complain?
Then you’ll probably hear frequent grumbles coming for your offspring.
Our children often mimic what they see in our homes. Let’s give them something honorable to mimic! <3
Classic Manners that are Disappearing in Modern Kids
Here are a few classic manners that are disappearing in modern kids. You can see more examples on our manners charts.
- Wait patiently. Some people snarl and say nasty comments under their breath if they are waiting longer than usual at the checkout counter. Others smile politely as they realize that unforeseen problems arise and can slow things down. Try instilling the “patiently wait” philosophy into your child’s heart by taking her to a park. There, she learns among peers to wait for swings. She also learns how to wait for a turn on the slide. Encourage her to stay happy, polite and kind in a real-life kid situation!
- Be courteous with your words.As soon as children begin to speak, words like “please” and “thank you” should be used to show desire and gratitude. This is something that parents should observe to do as well! Please open the door. Please pass the bread. Thank you for coming over to play! Thank you for letting me have a turn on the swing. Please may I play a game on your phone? Peppering your child’s daily conversations with courteous words will help good manners become a habit!
- Don’t offer your negative opinions. You’re fat! You’re ugly. I think your house is ugly. My mom’s cookies taste better than these. Kids are going to form opinions — that’s good and natural. However, if they have negative opinions that will only hurt others, they need to keep quiet about those.
- Be sensitive to your surroundings. At the park, kids can run, play and yell. At a library kids should walk and speak softly. At a restaurant, kids should speak in conversational tones. Those are typical public manners to ensure everyone enjoys those areas. Encourage your child to be sensitive to those surroundings. Help your child decipher when she can run, play, sit, whisper or yell. It takes time and instructions for a child to learn these manners.
- Offer help! Encourage your child to always look for ways to help — at school, around the house, at the park and with other family members. Some day your child will need an extra helping hand. Encourage your child to use her helping hands first!
- Refrain from gross behavior. Picking noses, belching loudly or scratching private body parts are all considered gross behaviors. Using the manners reward cards are great motivators for kids to avoid these habits!
One word of caution when teaching classic manners to modern kids: start slow.
Don’t expect your modern kid to suddenly become the most polite child in your life.
Start with a few manners per week and build on that!
Start with which manners are most important to your family.
Let’s make time for what matters.
Training kids to walk mannerly and exhibit good character should be one of our greatest goals as parents.
Which manners will you be focusing on this week?
Want to connect with other parent who are teaching manners to their modern kids? Join our All Things Mommy group on Facebook! See you there!