Encouraging Etiquette and Raising Respectful Children

Leading by example is often a good way to teach kids to be polite and considerate of others.

How often do you stop early in your lane to let someone out of a gas station parking and onto the road in front of you? Or hold the door open for someone with a cart at a grocer like ? Or smile or nod at a stranger that you meet eyes with while walking through our downtown to or another local shop?

Now think of how often those moments pass by without so much as an acknowledgment from the other person.

Or take it to the next level, where someone dangerously cuts you off driving down Main Street and when you slam on the horn, they decide the appropriate thing to do rather than an apologetic hand gesture is flip you the bird.

Each time we are treated in a negative or disrespectful way, each of us is encouraged to treat another in a similar way; a sort of game of telephone that passes the buck through society.

One of my largest criticisms of parenting is when things aren’t clearly explained to children, rather they get a “because I said so” or some other anti-explanation. They are given rules and told to act a certain way, but are given no motivation to follow suit.

For example, we all (hopefully) impart the importance of dental hygiene on our children. When I told my son that he needs to brush his teeth every morning and every night, as well as floss and use mouthwash, he was less than excited.

It didn’t take long before he hated doing it, as it's usually an irritation and a waste of time to kids. But rather than let that mindset fester, I explained what will happen to our teeth and mouths if we don’t care for them. I told him how it happens on a microscopic level using drawings (consult a dentist if you are not aware of these processes), then I showed him pictures of mouths with gum disease and rotten teeth. He has brushed thoroughly and regularly ever since.

The point is, I didn’t just say “brush your teeth” and follow it up with a “because I said so”. I made it make sense to him. This is one of our jobs as parents, to offer practical knowledge and ease them into the crap-storm that is life.

We, as parents, decided to have kids which means we forced our kids into this world and we are responsible for equipping them with the tools they need to survive.

But I don’t just want my son Johnny to survive, I want him to flourish. I want him to live happily and successfully. Sure I’d love for him to be rich and prosperous in his endeavors, but the happiness and success I have in mind are those rooted in self-respect and respect for others.

We likely all encourage respect out of our kids, but do they even know what “respect” means. Do we?

In this situation, the definition of “respect” is to show regard or consideration for someone; to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with them. Simply put, to acknowledge someone’s worth, just as your own.

A set of generally accepted social conventions defining the conduct of people’s behavior that have been developed and have evolved over the years is called “etiquette." Ethical, practical and positive behavior shows others we are aware and care that they have a right to exist.

Etiquette is the most common and often simple way to show respect for others. Teaching etiquette to our children is important, but the underlying motivation of respect should not be overlooked, even if it can be tough to explain to a seven-year-old.

Children are our future...right? So, in our future’s best interest, encourage and promote respect and etiquette to your kids by participating yourself in obvious ways. Hold the door for the next patron when you walk into for a coffee or let someone with only one item cut in front of you in line at . It's as simple as saying "excuse me" as you try to squeeze past another customer in the narrow aisles of .

The more we can positively influence our children during their formative years, the less likely our future will hold a high percentage of jerks driving around, cutting people off and flipping birds.

michael J May 31, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Ms. Kim: From now on I will just have you answer for me. The I told you so, was a short reply to a complicated answer, too young to know, or a parents way of saying, when you grow and mature you will learn the answer thru Osmosis (?) you never heard I told you so, on a long summer night, or around a camp fire, usually you would just mutter "I am sorry I asked" it was so long. but during the week it was as said above. came from respect, often at the "dinner table" the dinner table was a great place to reinforce " by example" parents have till age 5 to implement in to their child their values, they spend the rest of the time, chasing around what big brother down loads. or peer pressure "I told you so" = not enough time to answer,manual labor, didn't have an answer, but knew it was the right thing to do.or say, lol. etc. I can tell you I WAS TOLD that Fernand Magelan, did what he did, why did I need to know that?. not one interview or pay raised was based nor asked if I knew. But boy some one decided I had to know. Untill one week end, I was in a sail boat race on a Great Lake, and all heck broke loose, boy I started to gain respect for Ferdand Magellan. I prayed to ST. Magellan, knowing he was not a St. but by Procamation he was elevated to one at that moment, where did that come from, From one of those I told you so's. some How, Ms. Kim, I knew you were out there, I just knew it, perhaps your words, will help some of the struggling parents.
michael J June 01, 2011 at 02:37 PM
The picture in the beginning, shows a boy having to open a door, is that just not Chauvinistic? Answer and I will tell you the rest of the story. never had a girl same age do the same.
Barbara Lusk June 04, 2011 at 01:17 PM
Teach by example and explanation. Start by showing respect for homeowners and the law when dropping off and picking up children from school! I live 2 doors from Kenwood School and have had my driveway blocked by parents to the point where I've had to call for police intervention! Not only is it against the law but it's disrespectful and dangerous to block me in my driveway! When parents do this or park in no parking zones it teaches children that inconvenience over rules all laws. And we wonder why teens get into so much trouble or accidents on the road????
michael J June 04, 2011 at 03:11 PM
MS. LUSK, agree also, how about shooting off back yard fire works, have them land on your camper, then ask you to prove they are the ones they had. Or cutting across lawns, talking back, the permisive parent might take the abuse waiting for the day they mature, mean while the rest of the village is gringing their teeth. One would think that the city after not having mo parking for decades, all of a sudden decide to put in no parking, they would have some one there to monitor it, it's not like it is all day affair, 25 min. in the morning and afternoon..
Ryan Cox June 05, 2011 at 08:37 PM
Very good comment about parking violations. I've seen the same thing at youth soccer matches. Gatherings like that often flood the streets with parking and makes it hard for everyone to find a spot. But that is never an excuse to block-in a driveway or park along an area of a street that has a posted "No Parking" sign.


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