Manners, who needs ’em?

By Michal Lloyd

It has been a long couple of years, and I mean long…… So, I might be crazy to suggest you teach your kids manners, but I’m a-gonna. Ultimately, you have to decide what is most acceptable for your family. Nevertheless, I’m going to recommend teaching them manners because it gives them the ability to navigate a complex world with more ease.

Now, there is so much out of our control that a bit of crankiness is understandable. But it’s good to be social, though not always easy. When we don’t interact, we can become bitter and brittle. We need polite interaction to keep us limber and civilized.

I get it; you don’t want your kids to think they are better or worse than anyone else. I was raised on cracklins and pickled pigs’ feet, so I know. But you don’t have to be snooty to teach your kids good manners; by not teaching them these things, you are doing them a disservice and limiting their opportunities. So if your child cusses like a sailor, she probably isn’t going to end up accomplishing what you both want for her.

Why Manners?

  1. Manners make you invisible like a spy or a Harry Potter invisibility cloak.
  2. Manners give you time to get the lay of the land before you come crashing through like a bull in a China shop.
  3. Manners open doors.
  4. Manners put you in charge of your destiny.
  5. Manners respect the other person’s values. When in Rome, do as the Romans do and when in Kuna, act like a Kaveman. In other words, manners aren’t “judgy.”
  6. Manners are humble.
  7. To learn, we have to push our limits. Pushing our boundaries includes interacting with people. Are we humans, or are we turtles?
  8. Remember, small talk isn’t small. It is big. Teaching your children to have a respectful conversation with adults will make their lives infinitely better.

We don’t always think about our actions’ impact on our children. Sometimes we don’t understand what kids see from their level. The things we do speak louder than the words we say. For example, when we mindlessly purchase things, we don’t need. The keyword here is “mindlessly”. If you take a moment to pause and consider what goal or why you are purchasing a specific item, it is helpful. It is too easy to buy on credit, giving us the illusion that we never need to wait for anything.

What are Manners?

  1. Manners respect the sensibilities of others.
  2. Manners put other people at ease so you can get to know them better.
  3. Manners do as much for you as they do for others.

When you see your teen display good manners, point it out. Acknowledge when they’re doing a good job and they’ll be more likely to keep up the good work. Your feedback can be a critical component of your teen’s ability to learn new manners and sharpen his skills.

What are Not Manners?

  1. Manners aren’t correcting other people.
  2. Manners are not fussy. 
  3. Manners are not acting arrogant or like you know it all. 
  4. Manners are not pomp and circumstance. 

As a parent, you might have to step up your manners game too.

I was farm-raised and had a natural aversion to etiquette. I viewed etiquette as uptight and arrogant. But what I’ve learned later in life is that manners are just an excellent way to not draw too much attention to yourself. We want our kids to be comfortable in all kinds of situations. Like a poker game, bad manners can be a tell because they show others your stress and anxiety levels. If you were playing poker, your fellow players would know your weaknesses. That is why we need to teach them manners. So when they are not with us, they have an easy go of it in the world.

There are many ways to practice politeness. But remember to allow yourself to make mistakes.  And above all, have fun with the manners game.

Want more information on how to teach your children how to use their manners? Check out the resources below.