In the modern world, you are what you look, what you speak and do. We cannot overemphasize how important it is to look good, speak politely and be helpful to people. In a world where soft skills are becoming increasingly important, every parent has to teach their children how to look, behave and act politely, with good manners and etiquette.
- Say the magic words
You might think this is cliché but you would be surprised how many kids still do not say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘You’re welcome’. Teach children early in their life that these words are very important throughout their lives. Correct them in every instance, when they do not say these words.
- Sleep wear is not home clothes
Sleep wear like a night-dress or pyjamas are only for nights in the bedroom. Kids cannot walk around in their night wear during the day. Day time wear can be pants and a t-shirt or a sweater.
- Do not interrupt when adults are talking.
Many children nowadays feel entitled, and they are in control of the family. Their every word is waited upon. These kids grow up to be rude, inconsiderate and insensitive. Always make sure that kids wait for a break in the conversation before they say something.
- Keep nine things secret
Teach your children that nine topics are not to be discussed with strangers, guests to the family and distant relatives. These nine topics are family quarrels, age, wealth, religion, your medical problems, love affairs, gifts, honour and disgrace.
- Never comment on physical characteristics
“So fat!” “So ugly!” and such comments are commonly heard from small kids and adults often ignore them instead of correcting them. This is a big mistake. Unless we correct them, they will never know that it is impolite to comment on how people look.
- Acknowledge people entering and exiting your home
In this age of smart phones and tablets, it is common to see kids engrossed in their gadgets and forgetting to say ‘hi dad’ when dad comes back from work, or ‘bye mom’ when mom goes out for shopping. But this is something they have to learn. It is part of growing up as a family, and it shows that they care.
- Greet visitors
Children should go to visitors individually and greet them saying ‘hi uncle’ and so on. When visitors leave, children should be there to see them off.
- Don’t point or stare at people.
It is rude, in all cultures of the world, to point at people or stare at them, in some more intensively than others. When you point at someone, three fingers are actually pointing at yourself! Pointing fingers at someone or staring at people is rude and ill-mannered.
- Do not chew with the mouth open
This should be no-brainer. It is extremely ill-mannered to chew with the mouth open.
- Do not talk with the mouth full of food
This is another basic rule. You have to wait till you have swallowed your mouthful, before you can speak.
- Hold doors open
Hold doors open for the person who comes behind you, whoever it is. This should be followed especially when you are followed by someone who has his or her hands full or needs extra help.
- Avoid annoying and rude behaviour
The following behaviours are considered bad manners and should be avoided at all costs.
- Coughing or sneezing in someone’s face
- Intentionally burping or passing gas
- Calling someone a bad name
- Throwing things in anger
- Pushing or shoving
- Grabbing something from someone else
- Inappropriately touching others
- Constantly interrupting
- Begging or whining
- Respect others’ privacy
Never disclose your family’s private matters to outsiders. Also, never explore other people’s private possessions, such as their phones, without their permission. If a door is closed, ask permission before you enter. If you want to borrow something make sure you ask first, and return on the promised date. Do not read other people’s diary or journal.
- Greet your visitors
Children should greet visitors who come home and say hello to them. They should be available to see them off at the end of the visit too. Older children can help their parents to serve drinks and snacks to the guests, which by the way I recently got a new blender from fruityblender.com so that I can make fresh juice for my guest. Children should never ask embarrassing questions to guests.
- No name calling
Even if it is for fun, name calling hurts. Instead of branding or labelling somebody as something, ask children to explain what it is about that person that is bothering them.
- Good sportsmanship
After playing a game (sports, cards, board game), whatever be the outcome, be gracious and pleasant. The winner should not gloat or show off. The loser should not sulk or get mad, but should congratulate the winner.
- Take compliments courteously
If the child is praised, he/she should be gracious and say ‘thank you’ with a polite smile. They should avoid putting themselves down or pointing out flaws in themselves, or say that it was just luck, many of them consider bankruptcy for assistance.
- Be kind to those who serve you
Children who are fortunate enough to be given services by a maidservant or a butler or a driver should always be polite and kind to them.
- Clean up after you
All children should be taught to clean up after them, be it after a meal or play. Clear the dining table and put plates in the sink. Older children can help with the washing up and cleaning. Similarly, after play of any kind, children should be taught to keep toys away at a designated place.
- Listen more, speak less
Right from childhood, children should know that listening is a very important part of communication. They should learn to take turns while speaking in a group, and never to interrupt when another person is speaking. They should pay full attention when someone is talking, and look at the speaker’s face when he is speaking. Never divulge secrets people have entrusted to you.