OT......children's manners: what is non-negotiable ?

yoyobon_gw

I just read a piece on Southern-style etiquette and pine for some kind of manners in children. When I come upon a child who has manners I want to congratulate and hug the parents for the great job they are doing. Is etiquette in children vanishing or is it just my own experience ?

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

It must be if it becomes so remarkable that it stands out. It should be the norm. Same with customer service. It surprises me when I see it. Sad. I know I sound mean and intolerant but really.

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yoyobon_gw

Children are raised by parents who must set examples or rules which require certain kinds of behavior. I feel it should not be "iffy". Even a simple thing like sitting properly at the table, no slouching, no elbows on the table.....hold your eating utensils properly, say "please and thank you"......don't leave your dishes at your place when you leave the table ( the maid isn't working today) should all be required.

It's all simple civility.

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annpanagain

Of course children take their cues from adults so if they don't experience manners from watching behaviour by their parents etc. how else can they learn?

I have just had a quiet Christmas because of not feeling too well. I gave the family members who got in touch with me a cash gift instead of shopping for presents this year. Some of my younger family, aged from twenty upwards, never even phoned, texted, emailed or sent a card! That is one area where their mothers have not given an example obviously. So I hardened my heart, no recognition, no Christmas money!

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colleenoz

Sorry to hear you're not feeling too bright, Annpan. I'm in total agreement with you, no thank you, no gift. I was appalled years ago when I asked my mother if my brother and his then new wife liked the wedding gift we had given them, as we hadn't heard anything. She told me that thank you letters were so old fashioned. This from a woman who used to sit us down to write thank you letters for everything!

When we raised our daughter we insisted on good behaviour and manners from the get go. Requests were not granted unless there was a "please" involved. "Thank you" was also a must. Now she's a highly successful adult, and I think a good part of her success is down to the good manners and work ethic we instilled in her.

My nephew, on the other hand, is so unpleasant to be around that we avoid family gatherings whenever possible. (Christmas this year was great because he and his branch of the family were away.) "Please" and "thank you" are foreign words to him, even "hello" and "goodbye" are almost impossible to prise out of him. He has no social skills and plays on his computer endlessly when we visit. In restaurants he runs around, bangs cutlery on the table, clambers all over the furniture and is an embarrassment. I truly don't understand why his grandparents tolerate his poor (and often dangerous) behaviour because I know they didn't raise their own children that way and they didn't tolerate any infractions on our daughter's part.

I was filling in as a lab technician in a local high school. I nicely insisted each student who came to the door with a request use the word "please". Towards the end of term I heard two girls coming up to the door and one said to the other "Don't forget to say "please"!" :-D

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annpanagain

Colleen, thanks. I am just feeling a bit rocky from taking tablets for my heart condition. I certainly didn't feel like Christmas shopping in the heat we had around that time!

As a grandparent and great-grandparent, I am careful not to seem to interfere with children but on one occasion, when my GGson was messing around near deep water running by the cafe where we were lunching, I commented tartly that if he fell in I wouldn't be able to rescue him as I don't swim! Forgetting that he is a little champion with trophies to prove it. So that was a waste of breath!

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vee_new

As several of you have said good manners come from the parents. So sitting at a table during meals, using the correct cutlery rather than fingers, asking to be excused at the end of a meal (or "May I get down" as we often say over here) or bouncing about during meals is a no-no.

Another pet peeve is when a child whispers to a parent; we were always told it was rude and if you have anything to say, say it out loud. I don't mean by shouting!

Our granddaughter whom we seldom see always send us 'Thank you' letters usually highly illustrated.

Our S-in-Law also is good at replying to emails etc. Our DD less so, saying emails are SO old fashioned. I know she has a very busy life with long hours managing a restaurant/bar/bistro but even a two word acknowledgment/reply wouldn't take too long.

Going back eons to my own childhood we were always well-mannered but very 'restricted' with adults. I think way back in the Dark Ages English children were very much 'seen and not heard'. Was this the same in your neck of the woods?

If a guest asked how we were, how was school etc. We would answer "Very well thank you." or "School is OK." but were quite tongue-tied in carrying on the conversation . . . not that many grown-ups were really interested in our health or education . . . so maybe it is/was a two-way thing.

I have found our neighbours teenage children will have long chats with us . . . if they are away from their parents. The mother remarked her daughter Elly was over at our house for ages one day and I said we had an very interesting chat about E's recent trip to West VA as part of the World Scout jamboree. I think she told us more than she did her family . . .who said E claimed to have missed her boyfriend and dog more than them ;-) . . .. that's teenagers for you.

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vee_new

Annpan, I hope you feel better soon. No wonder the heat is getting to you; at least when it is cold you can wrap up in layers and sit in a warm room.

Our TV footage is full of the terrible fires raging in NSW and Victoria. Hope you stay safe in WA.

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annpanagain

Vee, I had that kind of upbringing which dated back to the Edwardian era. Living with grandparents from around age 3 to 7 formed my later life. This was somewhat to my disadvantage as I was taught to respect my elders and there was one elder who came into my life when I married whom I should have treated with a lot less respect and more firmness!

The fires are indeed horrifying because it is not only property which is lost but the animals and even people who tried to fight it. I am in a fairly safe area but we do have a park with trees nearby and it doesn't take much for a fire to start. Then the hot dust, dead leaves and embers get caught and blown around in a wind and Whoosh!! the houses are on fire.

I do have air conditioning in my main room and can leave the bedroom door open to cool that room down. I have a sofa/ bed under the air conditioner so if it ever got really hot I could sleep on that.

I don't leave my home if it is too hot outside. My erratic heart problem makes me breathless easily so I am not able to walk far in the heat anyway without finding somewhere cool to rest for a while. Fortunately the shopping mall is air conditioned as are most of the shops and public buildings.



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yoyobon_gw

I have a young neighbor who is in her early 50's whom I have known since she was in HS ( friend of my D) who writes beautiful thank you notes even if she has already expressed her thanks in the moment. I admire her for this because her childhood was less than ideal and her life has been a series of challenges and painful difficulties. Grace is a choice.


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woodnymph2_gw

I grew up in the deep South and good manners for children were considered important. We were raised to say "Yes, Sir" and "No, M'am." Please and thank you were non-negotiable and I was carefully trained to write thank-you notes for all gifts. the "seen and not heard" was certainly the rule my parents followed.

Now, I notice that "thank you's" (especially written) seem to be more or less optional with younger folks. However, since relocating to Charleston, SC a decade ago, and since taking classes at the college here, I have been pleasantly surprised by the politeness of most of the students, both male and female. Charleston is an unusually friendly city, at least in downtown, where I am. Strangers passing on our streets nod and say "Good Morning" or "Good Evening." The one exception being the tourists....

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katmarie2014

I was shocked a couple of years ago when I inquired about a card I had sent with a gift card enclosed to a young Great nephew, and informed that yes it had been received. I was told that children are no longer required to thank someone for a gift because a person should give a gift because they want to give a gift, not for a "thank you" and a young child or anybody I guess should not feel obligated. I asked around and found that this is one of the modern parenting beliefs.

I made it known that I considered a thank you for a gift to be basic politeness, and no thank you, no more gifts. I received, via text of course, some belated thank yous.

It makes me feel old, but since that type of politeness did not start with my generation, or my parent's generation, but much further back I am not about to change.

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astrokath

I brought my two boys up to say please and thank you. I told them it cost nothing and grown-ups would like them to say it. Imagine my pleasure when I went to pick up the elder one from a birthday party and he ran up and said 'I got two bags of lollies because I was the only one who said thank you!'

We also ate our evening meal together at the table, so they learnt good table manners and we talked about various topics. The conversations were wide-ranging and for some reason one night we discussed flying buttresses, complete with me going off to find a picture of Notre Dame to illustrate and discussions of the physics of them. Much to my surprise about two weeks later the younger one came home very pleased with himself because the teacher, not expecting an answer, had asked if anyone knew what a flying buttress was, and he could answer :)

I admit I haven't made my boys write thank you notes, but they have never received gifts from people they don't see in person regularly, so I felt a face to face thank you was enough.

I am always shocked to see people letting their children disturb other people in restaurants or other public places. I think that if your children are not old enough to sit at the table quietly, you should stay home until they are. The same applies to taking them to a movie theatre.

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annpanagain

I think that family restaurants which supply drawing materials to keep children occupied are very sensible. I used to take paper and pencils on buses so that the children could play paper games like "Boxes" to keep them busy and quiet on trips.

I couldn't stand my own children being unruly in public, let alone other peoples!

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carolyn_ky

Ann, would it have passed your test if you had been a passenger on the city bus when my two-year-old daughter entertained the crowd with a display of her new patent leather Mary Jane's, of which she was very proud? She has turned out to be a delightful woman who no longer calls attention to her new clothes, but she still likes shoes!

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annpanagain

Carolyn, that sounds charming!

My D, when a toddler, also entertained a group of people at a rather formal dinner by standing in the ornate empty fireplace and demonstrating the use of a table napkin, wiping her hands and face with it but I had to grab her when she suddenly pulled up the back of her dress with the obvious intention of wiping somewhere else!

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yoyobon_gw

I will go up to a family with children dining out and compliment them on their nice manners and behaviors as I leave the restaurant. The parents are always so pleased and the children beam at having been praised. Both need that positive reinforcement !

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colleenoz

I do too, yoyobon, and so does my DH :-D

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vee_new

It's not so much the behaviour of children in dining areas, but dogs . . . and/or their owners that get to me. Personally I don't think animals should be allowed into places serving food but some eateries, our local pub for one, let in 'well behaved' animals.

Their owners seem blissfully unaware that little Pongo is wrapping his lead around the near-by chairs and sniffing at customers legs and when there is more than one dog in there just watch the hackles rise . . . of both owners and dogs. One woman recently went so far as it put the dog on a seat next to her . . . I was surprised she didn't order it a separate meal.

I occasionally check out Tripadvisor if we are going somewhere unfamiliar and am always amazed at the punters who base the number of 'stars' they give on how welcoming the place is to animals, or the opposite . . . eg a very well laid-out modern museum given a 'one-star' rating because a man was furious that his dog couldn't go round with him. He said he would never enter their door again! Another complaint stated that dogs are human and should be treated as such . . . and NO I don't hate animals . . . but l like them in their place.

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yoyobon_gw

Dogs in restaurants ? Rarely in the US. If it's a "comfort animal" perhaps, or a guide dog, but other than that they are not generally welcomed.

I like dogs....my dogs....but I do not want to eat near someone else's pet. Dogs can smell and have poor public manners. They drool, slobber, beg and generally make poor dining companions !


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vee_new

yoyo, I don't think I would advise anyone over here to compliment parents on children's nice manners. Maybe OK if you knew the family, but otherwise better to steer clear. Some folk might regard you with great suspicion. "What's she getting at?" or "Of course they know how to behave." English people on the whole don't start conversations with strangers . .. and especially not children . . . everyone seems terrified of weirdo's/paedo's. Or the really old-fashioned types, as illustrated by the story of two English men washed up on a desert island but not speaking to each other for years as they hadn't been introduced.

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annpanagain

As a dog owner, I noticed the difference from having one in Australia to living in the UK where dogs are allowed in public areas such as on public transport and in some eating places. Only registered companion animals are allowed on public transport here and animals can only be welcome in outdoor seating in some cafes unless they are designated dog (or cat) cafes or restaurants.

I, too would be hesitant to compliment a stranger's family on their manners. If I had been chatting to them, I might mention it but probably not! People can be quite touchy even about compliments. I remarked to my son's ex-wife how well my little Great-granddaughter (her granddaughter) spoke, when I met them at a wedding and got a blank stare!

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erasmus_gw

People who say please and thank you and hold doors open for others give me hope. I usually do the same because it's the kind of world I want to live in.

I just found out about a new trend or meme among young people and that is to dismiss older people's opinions with this phrase: " Ok, Boomer." My husband told me our oldest grandson used this phrase, or maybe just told him about this phrase.

To me this sounds like automatic disrespect. But I read an article about it in Forbes magazine that mostly defended the kids' point of view. Said we should try harder to understand why we're being dismissed. Said we should do better. I think kids should have a certain amount of automatic respect for elders because I do think in many cases older people have accumulated some wisdom.

I think automatic disrespect has much more of a downside than automatic respect. Treating people with the assumption they deserve respect makes a better world.

" Mind your manners!" " Sure, Boomer."

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yoyobon_gw

Eras......it is basically meant to be demeaning and disrespectful to that generation. It implies that you are an old fogey who doesn't know anything.

If you research it you will quickly find info about this latest trend in ageism.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

I'm horrified by that.

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yoyobon_gw


OK boomer is a viral internet slang phrase used, often in a humorous or ironic manner, to call out or dismiss out-of-touch or close-minded opinions associated with the baby boomer generation and older people more generally.

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erasmus_gw

I can see how it would be helpful to see the facial expression of someone who's using that phrase. If it's said with a smile it could be benign. If it's actually used to dismiss everyone of a certain age then it's creepy and ominous, IMO.

It takes more skill to argue a point by sticking to the issues, not demeaning the person you're talking to. But personal attacks are so common these days it could be called an art form that people try to outdo each other in.

I just don't think kids should be in charge. I don't think any one group should define for everyone else what it means to be " out -of-touch" or "close-minded". It's all too easy to say someone is just out of touch if they don't believe in , say, euthanasia.

The grown ups in the room have always had to endure being called a meanie if they say no to something unwise. I think parents should still be the grown ups in the room but I think to some degree our educational systems try to bypass parents and cultivate a view that they are just old and their ideas are not worth much. See schools helping young kids get abortions without even notifying the parents. What business is it of the parents? They just " don't get it."

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carolyn_ky

I'm of an age where I find it difficult to imagine baby boomers as "old fogeys." My daughter was born in 1955. If that's a fogey, what does it make me? One foot in the grave here and ready to have my every statement dismissed, probably. (I mean this as a joke, but maybe not?)

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woodnymph2_gw

I beg to differ with some of you re dogs in restaurants and stores in the USA. Charleston is a very "dog-friendly" city. Many of the restaurants have patios that are dog friendly, and as our climate is generally mild, often dogs are seen outdoors with their families who are eating -- the dogs are on leashes of course. There are also many shops and boutiques here in downtown Charleston that have a placid dog or cat as "host". People seem to love it, in general. If anything, it brings in more business.

Charleston is not that unusual: my friend in Monterrey, California tells of several "dog-friendly" restaurants with outdoor patios where they have been welcomed, along with their leashed and well-behaved dog.

I know this is relatively new, but increasingly, Americans are getting dogs that they truly consider as "members of their family." And there are least 2 student I note regularly in my classes who have "service animals" with leashes and harnesses that attend courses with their owners. No one seems in the least bothered.

My first encounter with this phenomenon was as a young student in Paris: my friends and I ate in a cosy bistro in the Latin Quarter where I lived, and there was the owner and his cat, sitting on his shoulder.


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yoyobon_gw

Umm......that would be a deal-breaker for me.

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Rosefolly

I noticed that dogs are all over Paris, especially in restaurants. It made me uncomfortable.

A short story about Paris: when I was there many years ago, I observed from my hotel window that every morning the neighborhood shop owners were outside hosing off the sidewalks. How nice, I thought, how clean and civilized. A few days later it came to me just what it was they were hosing off!

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yoyobon_gw

They need to create pet pissoirs !

Do they still have those on the curbside for men ? Those I saw in Paris were like booths with the bottom open and draining into the gutter. No plumbing.

I always thought that was very uncouth and not too clean or civilized .

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miteymo

First let me say I'm more of a lurker than a poster, but I have followed this board for many years. Also, in full disclosure, my husband and I have no children by choice - mostly my choice- and we'll be married 47 years in March of this year.

As someone who was brought up to be polite, respect elders and write thank-you notes I am sometimes surprised by good manners in the young, but am mostly appalled by bad manners.

What really surprises me is the behavior I see in TV commercials - which apparently passes for "acceptable" child behavior. Specifically the Bounty (paper towels) where the kid "gooses" an adult and he spills his drink all over the counter/floor. The child is of an age to know better. I'm fairly certain my mother would have taken serious steps to see I never did that again. And others - usually furniture commercials- that have kids jumping up and down on either a sofa or bed. Really? That's OK? Glad I'm not paying for the furniture.

And lastly as a personal experience - my friends and I were in a local Olive Garden several years ago. A young couple walked in with a child 4-5. This child could not sit still, was constantly getting up and walking/running the aisle, jumping around and acting out, yelling, crying, etc. Neither parent could control this child, so they both ignored the behavior. When she was lying in the aisle, rolling back and forth the waitress asked the parents to control her. This kid was just very ill behaved, clearly hadn't been taught how to act in public. The parents looked to me to be pretty young too. Finally they left. Sad.

I live in SoCal, so perhaps this is the norm.















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yoyobon_gw

miteymo.....welcome and thanks for your post !

I agree, manners in children on TV are horrible. I dislike that adults in general are made to seem foolish and stupid and the child always makes fun of them in some way. I am always tempted to write to the sponsor and complain about their choice of ads but then figure it would be a drop in the ocean.

The latest insurance ads are disturbing as well.

Farmer's Insurance are always clever, but lately the Allstate commercials actually make me uncomfortable , same with State Farm. They are sinking to the lowest common denominator .


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colleenoz

Even the shows themselves often have children who are smart Alec’s to their parents and even rule the roost. I refuse to watch those.

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carolyn_ky

I once worked with a woman who had four little boys and said she was buying her third sofa because the boys ruined them by jumping on them. Hmm, I had two little brothers, and we had the same sofa until long after we were all grown. My mother's gentle admonishment to most behavior problems was, "We don't do that." Dr. Seuss said not to tell children that because it would make them feel "superior." Well . . .

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annpanagain

I never had problems with my sofa until my pregnant dog decided to make a nest for the upcoming pups. I came home from work to find the stuffing torn out and she was proudly sitting on the felt layer and springs!

Rather her than me...and no, we didn't do that either!

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yoyobon_gw

Nope, nope.

"No jumping on the furniture." 'nuf said.

I never feel that I have to justify rules to my grandson .

My DIL allows her dogs on their furniture.

I do not.

And when her Australian shepherd mix comes to our house for doggy day care she would never , ever consider putting a paw on any furniture.

If a dog can learn it, a child certainly can !

I never had to explain to the Aussie why she couldn't. She simply understood " my house, my rules" !

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vee_new

I'd second that yoyo. Our dog was never allowed on the furniture, nor upstairs. I have acquaintances who not only let dogs into the bedroom but who spend the night IN bed with them. I don't care how much someone loves their pet to me it is most unhygienic.

Many years ago I had a friend who worked in a very up-market London hotel where a multi millionaire Arab had a suite of rooms. A separate (human) bed always had to be prepared for his Alsatian.

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annpanagain

Vee, you would have been horrified at us when we had a menageries of animals years ago, the only creature not to share the bed was the duck! The dogs and cats felt that they were part of the family and that gave them the right to sleep where we did. They were all clean animals, washed and brushed regularly.

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yoyobon_gw

I would not like the feeling of the cluster sleep.

I need a whole bed to myself !

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annpanagain

I hear you, Yoyobon. we have always had a big 5' bed and even though I am now the only one to use it, I have a double bed. As I had a tall husband and am used to it, I like big furniture still. I just wish my accommodation was larger...I have too many items probably but I needed to downsize.

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woodnymph2_gw

So many Americans consider their dogs and cats as members of their family, increasingly. It's not uncommon to see a dog on a family sofa in the casual or game room. Americans spend a small fortune on keeping their dogs clean and well groomed. As for cats, indoor cats, on the whole, are very clean animals, as they groom themselves several times daily. Most indoor cats will wake their owners up each morning while they are still in bed. The dogs I owned mostly were Samoyeds, an Arctic breed that has no "doggy odor." They keep themselves clean, as a rule, and were specifically bred to sleep with Arctic children in order to keep them warm at night. It's a very gentle breed, great with kids.

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yoyobon_gw


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Rosefolly

Anyone who says "OK Boomer" to me instantly loses my respect. Based on that comment I decide that this is a person whose opinion does not matter to me.

So I guess this means that name calling is the thing I will not tolerate, either in children or in adults.

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vee_new

yoyo, I went against my instincts and took your advice (see up thread) . .. while waiting for a Physio' appointment at our local hospital. The waiting area was very hot and crowded and in a corner two little boys were playing with a box of old toys provided by the hosp'. After my appointment the family were still there, continuing to play quietly 'driving' the plastic cars along a corner of the floor, no grizzling or demanding attention, so, on the way out I went across to the young mother and said how good and well-behaved I thought her boys had been. She did look very surprised but thanked me!

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astrokath

My best friend was always annoyed by people who told her she was lucky to have well-behaved children - she said, rightly, that there was no luck involved.

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yoyobon_gw

Yaaay Vee !

I never suggest "luck" but rather compliment the parents on what a good job they're doing raising polite, well-mannered children. I also stopped by a table of 14 -ish year old girls out to lunch at a diner and complimented them on what wonderful manners they had and how lovely they behaved. Then I told them to be sure and thank whoever loved them so much that they taught them so well ;0)

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msmeow

We were in a busy Mongolian grill Saturday night, one of those restaurants where you fill a bowl with ingredients then they grill it for you. Lots more foot traffic than a regular sit-down restaurant. I was floored when a girl of 11 or 12 flew by on ROLLER SKATES. Not once but at least a dozen times. Either her family were waiting for a table, or no one was bothering to make her stay at the table. As if that's not bad enough on the part of the parent (or whoever should have been in charge of her) no one on the restaurant staff said anything, either. And several servers had to dart out of her way of avoid a collision. If I'd been the restaurant manager she would have been in her sock feet or outside.

Donna

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yoyobon_gw

Ahhhh......there's where a stretched out foot in the aisle would be worth a thousand words !

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colleenoz

I was so happy inside when wait staff told my unruly nephew to sit at the table and stay there when we were having a family meal at a restaurant. His complete lack of good manners and behaviour drive me crazy, especially when I know his grandparents, who tolerate and even indulge this, would never have tolerated it in my daughter 25 years ago. He is so unpleasant to be around, we avoid a lot of family gatherings.

Just this past weekend we were visiting MIL when BIL, his wife and nephew arrived. Nephew (9 yo) proceeded to argue with his parents, calling them "Dumb" and similar names, and at one point said, "I'm going to kill you" and jumped onto his father to hit him. (Long before that point my DD would have had a very warm backside.) Aftr they left, my other BIL, the one with the psychology degree, said, "Oh, he's just a kid."

This is the attitude that irks me- I've heard it in many places where children misbehave. So at what point do we say, "Well, you're not a kid anymore, good manners and behaviour are mandatory"? And how unfair is it to expect years of ingrained behaviour to just disappear and be replaced by acceptable behaviour? I think it's easier in the long run and much fairer to the person to train them up as you want them to behave from the get-go, and not let them develop bad habits, not unlike training puppies.

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yoyobon_gw

In my opinion, a child's good manners and appropriate behavior are non-negotiable.

My son, who is a very calm , reasonable personality would say to our grandson when he was doing something unacceptable " I cannot make you choose to do the right thing but I can make you wish you had chosen to do the right thing." He never, ever used corporal punishment but would simply remove certain toys never to be seen again, or tell him to go to his room until he was permitted back with the family. It seemed to work. Once when he was just three years old he said to me : "Nonnie, know a word I don't like ?.....consequences." lol. From the time he could understand he was always taught that choices have consequences !!

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carolyn_ky

Colleen, a cousin of my mother's once quoted the Bible verse that says to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. At the time, she had an alcoholic son about whom she was very troubled, and she said the Bible didn't say what he would do in the interim.

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yoyobon_gw

Carolyn......doesn't it also say "spare the rod spoil the child " ? ! Much child abuse has happened from following some of those things literally , especially in certain sects.

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carolyn_ky

Yes, Bon. Happy medium comes to mind.

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yoyobon_gw

Happy medium = a well-paid psychic :0)

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vee_new

Over here the thorny problem of smacking a child is ever-present. A vocal minority see any form of chastisement as 'abuse' while others (including me) think in some situations a quick slap on the behind or leg is preferable to a long drawn out 'discussion' with Little Tommy/Sally as to the error of his/her ways or . . . at the other extreme . . ."Just wait until your Father gets home and you'll feel his belt across your back."

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carolyn_ky

I had a cousin who used to sit her 18-month-old son down and "explain" to him what he had done wrong.

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colleenoz

You can’t reason with someone who doesn’t speak the language well, and you can’t appeal for empathy from someone who isn’t old enough to have developed it.

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yoyobon_gw

In my experience, I can barely reason with a 22 year old .

All language written or spoken must fit the age and ability of your audience. Many doctors and lawyers are being cautioned to use "real words" when giving directions or explanations to patients/clients and avoid using those terms which only their profession uses and understands.

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