Recently a friend shared 25 manners every kid needs by age 9 on Facebook. That’s nice, manners right? Good manners. Great stuff. Evie needs to get started right away.
#1 When asking for something, say “please”.
#2 When receiving something, say “thank you”.
Yes, yes. Basic stuff.
#3 Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless it is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
Huh? “They will notice you and respond”? This makes children sound like adults’ minions, underlings. Hey my servant, stand aside and don’t interrupt. Until I notice you and respond.
Think about it, Adult-Who-Wrote-This-25-Manners-Infographic, do you abide by #3 when children are speaking with each other? Do you wait for them to finish their conversations and games before politely making yourself heard? If you do, why?
The rationale for #3 is courtesy. Highlight that. Nobody likes to be interrupted. Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you. 己所不欲，勿施于人. No matter as an adult, or as a child. Basic courtesy transcends age.
#6 The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
I am furious with #6. If I’m furious, I wonder what the authors of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk are feeling.
Everyone has opinions, likes and dislikes. If kids dislike something, they have the right to voice this opinion. In an appropriate forum to appropriate audience, with an appropriate tone of voice and choice of words.
As a parent, I would love for my kid to tell me why she likes or dislikes something. This is known as “sharing”, “communication”. This is me paying attention to her, getting to know her better. I do not wish for her friends to be the only privileged few who get to know her dislikes.
#20 If you come across a parent, a teacher or a neighbour working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes”, do so – you may learn something new.
The reason we help one another is because we care about one another. We want the other person to have a lighter load, to have a better day. It is purely altruistic. It is NOT so “you may learn something new”.
#21 When an adult asks you for a favour, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
Missing the point. When someone asks for a favour, you evaluate the favour (is it lawful? is it within your means? is this person trustworthy?) and proceed to help or not help the person. You may grumble or you may smile. But you’re getting the cause and effect wrong if you insist that help should be given with a smile.
If it’s a trustworthy person (your teacher), it is lawful (helping her carry a huge stack of papers up some flights of stairs), it is within your means (you’re fit and able-bodied), then do so. Be of assistance. At the end of it, when your teacher is having an easier day because of you, when she is glad she received help from you, when you feel a warmth inside you from having been of help to someone you respect and trust, then yes, I bet you will smile!
I hope my child has the smarts to not help a stranger (who?) open his car door (who’s this stranger again?) and load stuff (what stuff?) WITHOUT GRUMBLING AND WITH A SMILE.
#22 When someone helps you, say “thank you”. The person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!
When we receive help from others, we say “thank you” because we are grateful. We verbally express our gratitude by saying “thank you”. It is often accompanied by a sincere smile. In our hearts, we feel blessed and fortunate for having been helped. Therefore, thank you! But not because “the person will likely want to help you again”!
Most infographics are harmless at worst. This 25 manners infographic goes a step further and is littered with bad advice. Granted, some are harmless, but the points I highlighted above does enough damage. Adults who agree with this infographic do not know kids. Kids who read this infographic will find it so disagreeable they might even rebel against good manners.
I shall come up with a list of good manners every kid (and adult) should have.