First we had a member of Congress screaming “liar” at the president, then a tennis star ranting at a judge and finally a musician jumping on stage when he had no place being there and stealing the spotlight. All of these have happened in the past week and in each of them I wanted to cuff them side the head and ask, “didn’t your parents teach you better?”
Manners and respect are a hard thing to teach kids. We had friends over for dinner last weekend and as their daughter jumped out of the car and reacted less then positive to something she was told to do my friend hugs me and asks, “does this manners thing eventually get easier?”
We’ve always had strict rules in our house about respecting adults, treating others with respect and using manners whenever appropriate. I wish I could tell you that it is an easy thing to teach, but it isn’t. What I’ve found is that the best way to do it is repetition. You need to constantly remind them and eventually it’ll crack through and they will listen.
A zero tolerance policy is also important. You can’t bend or it won’t work. Even the littlest thing has to be reminded. I can’t tell you how many times at the dinner table over the course of a week I have to remind the kids to chew with their mouths closed. I do it every time though because I know they will get sick of hearing it (I did when growing up) and eventually it’ll build in them a hate for other people doing it as well. Some day I won’t have to remind them. It’ll become second nature to them.
Boys are extra tough in my mind because we have to teach them extra respect and values. I’m sure that is a little old fashion to say, but I firmly believe it. Case in point that one of my sons best friends is a girl. They are total buddies and one day at school she took his jacket during recess and he hit her on the arm. He got in trouble for this and was completely confused by it because similar things like this happen all the time with his male friends and no one gets in trouble.
It was the perfect time to start laying down the law on the level of respect you must show a woman. Again a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hitting women. Yes, this was a playful tap between two friends, but I want to make sure he knows the difference and he does now. But, again I didn’t just blow off this like I could have but used it as something to reinforce the respect factor.
I don’t have all the answers. I’m figuring this out day-to-day with the kids as we are living through it. But, this week with all these people making tons of money and being watched by the world behaving so poorly really tweaked me. Whenever I see other parents letting their kids run all over them that tweaks me as well.
The only way we are going to have a next generation of well behaved individuals is if they are raised to respect themselves and others and know the manners that are appropriate in each situation. Take the time. Be tough with your kids on this and don’t let them slip. When they do slip, make sure you are there to discipline and teach them so that it doesn’t happen again.
How are you teaching your kids manners and respect? Any secrets to help the rest of us out?