Last week I began a two part posting on manners – and why they matter. I am increasingly convinced that we are observing the loss of civility and respect in our society, and this is perhaps seen most easily in the area of manners.
As I shared last week, this posting began as a result of observing my children. Left to themselves and void of any discipline, they normally and naturally act out of selfish, self-centered motives. They seek to be first and foremost in their little world. They want to be heard first, eat first, watch what they want to first. They want to sit where they want to sit, do what they want to do and it doesn’t matter how anybody else feels.
Come to think about, that’s the way most adults act today too. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise – we are sinners at heart. We come forth from the womb seeking our own selfish desires.
Thus, I believe that as parents, and especially Christian parents, we should make it a point to teach our children manners.
Show a disciplined life.
Express a humble heart.
Reflect a Christ-like spirit.
These are the primary reasons I have determined to teach and reinforce good manners in my children – I want their little lives to reflect and direct others to Jesus.
Now, I know that outward actions do not necessarily mean that the heart has been changed. However, I do believe that the basic premise behind good manners – humility, respect for others, discipline – are certainly aspects of the life of Jesus. Thus, I believe that it is beneficial, from a young age, for us as parents to teach and instill these attributes into our children.
So, what manners can we expect from our children at the different ages and stages of their lives? (This is not a perfect, exact list. However, I do hope that it is helpful for you and your family.)
Toddlers (Ages 3-4)
Saying “Please” and “Thank you.”
Saying, “Hello” and “Goodbye.”
Responding with “Sir?” or “Ma’am?” when addressed by a parent or adult.
Younger children (Ages 4-6)
Saying “Excuse me.”
Not interrupting others.
Showing respect for elders.
Using a fork and spoon correctly.
Using a napkin at the table properly.
Not talking with food in their mouth.
Not acting out in public.
Older children (Ages 6-12)
Saying “Excuse me” if interrupting becomes necessary.
Offering to help others when needed.
Refraining from making hurtful comments.
Respecting other’s property either at home or away.
Learning how to answer the phone correctly.
Keeping their room picked up and tidy.
Doing their assigned chores efficiently, quickly and most importantly – cheerfully.
Listening to music at a decent level.
Respecting other’s privacy.
Waiting their turn in line.
Taking care of a guest.
Writing “Thank you” notes for gifts, overnight visits and any other special treats.
Being on time.
Putting trash in the proper receptacle.
Observing safety rules when biking, skating or walking.
Again, these are just personal observations, and even as I was writing them, I can see where some children would catch on quicker to certain aspects of this list than others. The goal is not to somehow create a “perfect” child. (There is no such thing.) The goal is to teach and reinforce good manners to your children so that they may reflect and direct others to Jesus. You and they, (not to mention the rest of us) will be glad you decided to make manners matter in your family.