Manners are a must in my house. Waiting for everyone to sit down to eat, asking to be excused from dinner and saying "please" and "thank you" are as important as brushing teeth and getting a good night's rest. Not only does it encourage consideration of each other, but these are things my children will use throughout their lives. Someday, they will want to date or have to have a business dinner. When that happens, their words will be heard loud and clear because of their good manners. Conversely, bad manners can make your message get lost behind smacked lips and shoveled food.
I never understood the importance of these messages that I was taught until I was an adult. But they are important, so that's why I pass them on.
Schools teaching manners
Homes and dinner tables aren't the only places where manners can be taught. Some schools are getting in on the action now too.
Across the pond, in England, schools have seen a decrease in bullying through programs that teach respect and manners to kids. This fall, Bully Safe Schools' R Time program is making its debut in US elementary schools. R Time, which stands for Relationships to Improve Education, has been used for six years in England. It was developed by Greg Sampson, an English teacher and child behavior specialist. Bully Safe Schools says that the program has resulted in improved school climates and better behavior.
"We are excited about this opportunity to offer such an innovative and highly effective program to American elementary schools," William Voors, director of Bully Safe Schools, said in a statement. The program takes about 15 minutes each week. Students learn about expectations of good manners and respecting others.
Bully Safe Schools says that students and teachers alike have experienced the benefits of their manners program. According to a press release:
"Staff and children alike find the program helpful, practical and fun. "R Time is great. It has helped my class to realize that being polite is right," said one student. Another said, "R Time has helped me to stop judging other children from what they look like. Just like when you judge a book by its cover." One teacher said, "It has had a major impact on the whole school. I have never known the whole school so peaceful." Another said, "R Time has helped me become the teacher I aspired to. "It even affects home life in a positive way. "I've never had so many parents coming to see me to say that the change in their children at home has been remarkable," said a primary school teacher."
Bring manners home
The key to raising well-mannered kids is consistency. "Please" and "thank you" were among my son, Will's, first words at the age of one because my husband and I use them ourselves and did so with him. Also, set your expectations and hold firm to them. For us, it only took a few days to get Will, at two, to ask to be excused from the dinner table.
Manners might seem old fashioned, but they are one of those things that never go out of style.