by Barbara Gilmour
I’ve seen this a few times on social media, but never with an author’s name. So I’m taking the liberty of using this list of manners and social skill rules as the basis for a post that I feel would be beneficial for parents and/or teachers to use in trying to help our children learn some skills that would not only improve their peer relationships and build their self-esteem, but might just give them the tools they need to be able to reject bullying behaviors. Maybe some adults could learn from this list as well.
- Saying “thank you.”
And to that I would add “please,” and “you’re welcome.” When the topic of manners or social skills is broached, “please” and “thank-you” are the terms most people are familiar with. Saying “thank you” shows gratitude for something said, given, or other generous act. This attitude of gratitude is something we need to instill in our children from the earliest ages. Make a game out of modeling this behavior with drama and the kids will catch on easily. Be sure to add “you’re welcome” to every “thank you.”
- Apologizing when you’re wrong.
This is hard to do for most of us. Skip the blame game and be bold enough to say you’re sorry to those you have wronged or offended. Delaying that will only cause the offense to grow until bitterness and resentment can creep in. For kids, try the ‘forgive,’ ‘forget,’ and be ‘friends again’ mantra. They seem to be able to do this much easier than adults. We can learn a lesson from them.
- Showing up on time.
This affects every area of life; from getting up on time for school or work, to arriving before they’re closing the door on the plane. We all function on paying attention to time. To be late shows disrespect for those who might be inconvenienced. No-one wants to intentionally hold up the game, incur the boss’s wrath by being late to the meeting, or miss the carpool. Chronic lateness shows others that your agenda is more important than theirs. Though most won’t say anything to you about your tardiness, many will harbor resentment toward you, which can have a negative effect on all involved. If your kids have trouble with this, help them prepare in advance for whatever they need to get them wherever they need to be on time.
- Being nice to strangers.
Stranger danger aside, being nice to strangers helps make people feel welcome and comfortable. Greet foreign visitors with a smile. Your gracious hospitality will reflect positively on our country as a whole. With a new neighbor, welcome them by introducing them to other neighbors, taking a meal, and letting them know about community events or services. Enlist your kids to help their kids find their way to school, offer to sit with them on the bus, or show them around the school. Leave them with the impression that they have moved into a friendly neighborhood.
- Listening without interrupting.
Interrupting shows disrespect for the people whose attention you are trying to get, while leaving them with a poor impression of you. Interrupting should only happen when there is an emergency. I always tell my students to only interrupt if the house is on fire or they are bleeding. They laugh at that but get the point. And be sure to say “excuse me” first.
- Admitting you were wrong.
It takes the bigger person to admit that they were wrong. Most of us naturally want to defend ourselves or explain our position or reasoning. Refusing to admit you were wrong can leave others with the impression that you are immature or maybe even belligerent, depending on how far you take the issue. You will feel better and will have made a better impression on everyone involved if you just do it and get it over with.
- Following your dreams.
This can run the gamut from a small child learning to stand, ride a bike, or win their soccer game. It can mean a high school student striving to get good grades to get into the college of their choice. Whatever the goal, the drive and ambition required to reach that goal must include patience, perseverance, resilience, and determination; all good character values we want to see in our children. Don’t be afraid to let your kids fail sometimes; the lessons learned will be invaluable.
- Being a mentor.
This is a term we usually relate to adults. But we can encourage kids to be mentors also. Kids can stick up for the bullied child, sit with the shy child at lunch, or ask the awkward kid to be on their team. Older kids can protect and help younger kids, whether on the bus where bullying might be happening, or teaching or coaching them in a sport. Kids who are natural leaders are often mentors without even knowing it. The other kids look up to them and respect them.
- Learning and using people’s names.
This may not seem so important today but remember how it feels when someone doesn’t remember your name. It just seems that they really didn’t care so much. I tell students when we are doing lessons on Introductions that it’s important to use people’s names when meeting or talking because it shows respect for them. It gives the person a feeling of acceptance and that you are genuinely glad to be conversing with them. It’s important to use titles as well, especially when children are addressing adults.
- Holding doors open for others.
This is another one of those traditions that has largely disappeared, but those with good manners and social skills training will do this by rote. Holding the door and allowing someone to go ahead of you is kind, caring, considerate, and endears you to others. What grandma isn’t impressed when their young grandchild holds the door or demonstrates other good manners. These skills, when learned early, will follow a child throughout life.
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