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Are parents teaching manners to their children in today's world?

In my classroom I have noticed a declining trend in good manners, or the simple courtesies that were stressed when I was younger.

What brought about this trend? Why is it such a bother to say anything when something kind is done?

Let me be more descriptive and then you can make a decision. Keep in mind also that I'm being general here, and if YOUR Tommy, Susie, or whatever is polite as can be, then I'm not referring to your child.

Often times I'll reward my class for their hard work on a project, or assignment. I may bring in suckers, or some other treat. I rarely hear a thank you for this. I'm being totally serious when I guess that less than 10 percent of my students will thank me. I will always say you're welcome, and I'm a very thanking person. If a student does something nice for me, I'll thank them. I'm modeling the behavior, and I'm amazed that I don't hear it more. Every once in a while I'll even say "you're welcome" to generate the thank-you that I was anticipating.

What is the cause of this?

This is the same when you would normally say "excuse me" when trying to get by someone. Most students won't say a word if they're in the same circumstance. Instead they'll bump past a person, or wait.

Is there anything that can be done to solve this? Do you have any solutions to offer me? Do you see what I'm talking about, and agree that it could be better? Or am I just blowing smoke?

To me, the attitude of a person is depicted when this happens. They appear snobby or shallow. A room full of polite people is a room that is fun to be in. I feel unappreciated when they fail to acknowledge what I've done for them.

I've also had situations where I'll say "Good Morning" to someone and many won't say a word. I feel as though I need to repeat myself most of the time to get a response from them. What is going on?

What do you think about it?


At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Kelsey said...

Make the situation obvious to them. Sometimes if you don't point it out then they'll never catch on. Make it seem like it is the cool thing to do to be polite. Practice saying good morning to the class as a whole and have then repeat it back. THen explain why it is important to have good communication skills and the value of being polite. Let them know they'll get farther in life when they are polite!

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

Yes... I do these sorts of things.

Am I the one that is supposed to be teaching this to them though?

Maybe we're at a point in history where teachers need to teach children even more...

Thank you for your response.

Some ideas that I can continue to try.

At 11:58 PM, Anonymous dawn said...

I would generally have to agree with you. Children these days are not taught manners. I have a bunch of them that live in the apartment complex that I live in and I can report that the reason that the kids dont use manners is probably more becuase their parents dont. The parents of these children are some of the most rude people that I have ever encountered. To actually find people that have manners and the people that I would rather talk to, I have to talk with those adults that are old enough to be my parents. I am stunned by the lack of maners and moreover I am worried for the kids now...

Good news though, my son (in Kindergarten) had a halloween party yesturday, which I put together and helped out at. The children in the class were quick to say 'please' and 'thank you'(and that class has one of the children from the previously discussed apartment complex...and it is not mine). The teacher encouraged polite maners and all the children said thank you at the end of the party. I can only hope that what they learned in their classroom, carries over to the rest of their lives...sad

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

I am one who constantly instills that sort of behavior in my son. To bring him up with manners and respect is so important to me. During trick or treat, not one house was bypassed without a thank you.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Susan L. Prince said...

I've noticed the trend not only in children, but adults.

I manage a retail store and often we are contacted by phone to check to see if we have an item in stock. I will look the item up, answer the question, and rarely do I hear "thank you" or even a "goodbye"...I hear "click".

It has become rather irritating to me because it happens so frequently.

Common courtesy!

Thank you and goodbye.

At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is rude not to say "thank you", but it is more rude to say "your welcome" when someone does not say "thank you" soon enough. I can't tell you how angry that makes me, and if they would just be quiet I would have thanked them. I know that is not what your post was about and I am sorry for the interjection (I had to say it).

You know, a couple of decades ago people thought teachers should teach manors as a matter of course. Even if children are taught at home they are not going to be polite without reinforcement and lets face it children spend most of their waking hours at school (for most of the week).

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Angelle Trieste said...

I've noticed this a lot, even in Japan and Korea. When I was a child, my parents, esp. my mom, taught me that I need to respect others and be polite to people even if I don't like them personally because that's the right thing to do.

These days, parents don't discipline their kids. Terrible.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger michaelm said...

"What is the cause of this?"
The parents, period.
There is no other excuse.
I totally agree with you on this sad topic. I'm currently raising three daughters and I know if you gave them anything they would respond with a "thank you". (if they didn't, I'd be really pissed, an they know it)
Etiquette begins in the home. Where else can it come from?

At 2:34 AM, Blogger Meegan said...

I too believe that the common curtesies that I was taught as a child are lacking in the kids of toady. But to my delighted surprise, the neighbourhood kids all celebrated Halloween last week (Halloween is not generally celebrated in Australia)and we did not get one rude child at our door! Something good must be happening somewhere...

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Dana said...

I agree. I am trying to get my two boys (8 and 5) to say please, thank you and yes ma'am and no ma'am, etc... I have run across teachers that correct my kids and tell them NOT to say yes ma'am and that just a yes will suffice. Why can't they just leave well enough alone? I WANT my boys to say yes ma'am or no ma'am. Grrrr.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Dirty Butter said...

I've noticed a general decline in politeness by adults over the years, so it's not surprising that they have children who haven't a clue as to what 's expected of them.

Good manners is an outward expression of an inward awareness of someone else's personal dignity and inherent worth. Self-centered folks don't understand the importance of being polite.

With that rant being said, what can you do as a teacher to improve your students manners? Don't just model it, but point out what you are doing, so they really notice it. Certainly don't beat them over the head with it, but an occassional comment to the effect that you're saying thank you because so and so was helpful and you appreciated it goes a long way toward encouraging a similar "thank you" from your students.

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Joanie-Ann said...

I think what you should do is have a class session on manners and being polite (depending on what age kids they are).

Personally, I'm also annoyed when people don't display manners. I can speak for my mother when I say she grew me and my three siblings as very mannerable and respectful children.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Kathryn Beach said...

I think it has to do with self esteem, at least in part. You mentioned that you think people who behave in this way are "snobby". I think people behave a certain way because the truth lies in the opposite.

A snob behaves in this way because he thinks he needs to build himself up in this way, otherwise people may not notice his "superiority". A bully terrorizes others because of low self esteem. People behave the way they do because they have to prove something.

Children often behave the ways they do because they feel invisible. Either they are treated as such, or are SO noticed and criticized that they put up their defenses.

As a teacher, you may spend many hours with a number of children, but they have so many other influences in their lives. Maybe they get no attention from their parents; maybe they get a lot of negative attention. Maybe they get a lot of positive attention but it transforms into a fear of failure.

People are complex, and children even more so because they are changing and evolving at an incredible rate. (I remember when my son was gaining a shoe size a month; I gave him a lot of support and SLACK because I could only imagine what his spirit, hormones, brain cells and nervous system were also going through!)

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

Thank you for posting, and you have some interesting thoughts.

What are you saying then, Kathryn, is that people do not use manners because of their self esteem, and how they look at themselves.

I think you are partly correct, and I do think that the home life is a big factor in all of this.

Btw, you are putting words into my mouth that I did not say... I did not say that they are snobby, I said that they appear snobby when they don't show appreciation for something I went out of my way to do for them. I truly feel that there is a gap in our society right now in regard to this.

I've talked about this issue in class, and had them write about it. I just don't think that some homes are emphasizing it. Which is sad.

Yes, that may have to deal with self-esteem in some ways, but to a minimum.

I wish I could paint a true picture of what exactly I'm seeing in my mind, and what exactly I'm referring to. I've decided to clue them in to moments when I myself would expect a word of gratitude. "This would be a moment when you would say "thank you". I'll see how that goes for a while.

And giving excuses without a solution does nothing but build up a wall.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Kathryn Beach said...

It is difficult to put our thoughts into just a few words...

I appreciate how you model what you believe to be appropriate behavior. I support you 100% in that.

By the way, "they say" that parenting is the most difficult job, but I think teaching is, because basically you take on many of the responsibilities of a parent, but for far too many of other people's children.

I didn't mean to make excuses, just point out that it's a complicated issue.

I think by modeling appropriate behavior, accompanied by an ongoing discussion, you may be doing all you can do.

Like all of us, kids are bombarded with input and stimuli, and react with thoughts and words along the lines of "what's in it for me?" so how they feel when someone is polite to them makes for good discussion...

At 10:15 PM, Blogger The Uncooperative Blogger said...

That is easy! Make them say thank you before you give it to them.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Pigs said...

Oh my gosh, you are so right. "Bless you" is a classic example in my classroom. Every year it takes until about November or December and my modeling finally pays off. It's so rewarding when I sneeze and a child actually says, "Bless you!" Good post. :o)

At 10:22 PM, Blogger TastyKeish said...

I know how you feel, sometimes at stores where you as a customer should be thanked, I find myself saying thank you first.

And would it kill people to show their kids how to write thank you cards or call when you give them a gift? My Godchild never says thank you. I don't want to be rude how do you explain this to a parent?

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

It appears that I've made a good observation that others are noticing too... thanks for your responses.

As for me, I'm just indicating to my students when they should say "thanks" if they don't.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger THE MATERIAL BOY said...

My thoughts have been pretty much said by the other commenters.

Common courtesy is usually learned at home and parents/guardians are to be responsible in raising courteous children. The schools will just have to reinforce the idea.

I just have to say, I commend anyone in the teaching profession especially those dealing with children. Your work is a tough one but I know it could also be the most fulfilling. I once dreamt of becoming a teacher, but fate lead me someplace else...

All the best to you!

At 3:57 AM, Blogger Mama Mouse said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:00 AM, Blogger Mama Mouse said...

I believe I saw the decline in manners start with what I (and many others) call the 'ME' generation many years ago. So many of those of that generation began to feel like the world owed them ... and whatever they got was only what they deserved.

Sadly those people had children ... and then their children had children. The parents taught by example that manners weren't needed in a world where everyone else owed you whatever you wanted. The children learned well and now are teaching THEIR children.

It will only stop when those that believe in manners make a visible and concerted effort to not reward a lack of manners. In other words, I agree with the uncooperative blogger ... make them use 'thank you's' and 'your welcome's' as often as you can.

It is painfully obvious to me that far too many adults just don't care. They were never taught respect for others and their offspring and grand-offspring aren't being taught it either.

LOL --- yes ... you hit a sore point with me! I say be more obvious in your classroom ... maybe have some kind of contest to see who can become the most mannered child by the end of the school year.

Manners shouldn't be something that they have to think about ... it should be natural as breathing. The only way to get there is for them to practice and practice and PRACTICE. If it isn't happening at home it needs to be taught in the classroom.

I was taught by my parents AND my teachers as were all children when I was in school.

At 2:32 AM, Blogger StephenH said...

First of all, I think there are several things that lead to the demise of manners in society:

1) Parents working longer hours and less time home to teach it.

2) Breakup of the family unit. With more single parent families, families where both parents work, alternative living configurations such as same sex couples, roommates, etc, teachers cannot assume the stay-at-home mom culture, where the mom does all the teaching at home.

3) The media's portrayl of manners in TV shows, movies, and the like is not correct in many cases.

4) Corporate greed has taken its toll, with the average customer service today being sub par (its often press 1, press 2, wait on hold...)

5) There is a lack of social skills, manners, and ettiquite instruction in school today. I think the No Child Left Behind act has taken its toll on this myself, by making school culture more competitive instead of cooperative!

6) There is less formality today in society. If you look, the amount of casual dress events and even casual dress workforces has gone up. Often ballrooms in hotels are not used for dancing as they are for conferences, for example.

7) The digital world has taken its toll on manners. In fact, the act of communicating from a distance has changed culture dramatically. For example, cell phones, computers, e-mail, videoconferencing, instant messages, etc have created ettiquite problems of distrubances, while at the same time people had to change old rules to accomodate them (for example, going on a first name basis is a lot safer online, for example) than going by title and last name.

8) Today, people are so sue happy that too much fear of being sued altered ettiquite and what can even be taught to kids. We need to rethink this policy.

This being said above, I think that you need to teach social skills and manners in school! Additionally, I feel that in todays world people need to teach it other places rather than rely on the parents.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Check out the Emily Post Institute website:

2) Buy an ettiquite book and teach it in your classrooms. There are many good ones out ther.

3) Teach kids social skills and how to have the skills to be a friend.


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