THESE DAYS, WELL-BEHAVED little children, what more humble, down-to-earth ones are somewhat a rare sight. Modern children on the whole seem to lack social etiquette ranging from common courtesy to expressions of appreciation and gratitude. Sigh….
Yes…. sigh indeed!
Now, while human nature sounds all nice and dandy a phrase, some things in life are not that simple. That’s right… Manners (good or bad) are all taught! Appreciation, gratitude and humbleness have to be instilled to be seen and heard. Without proper lessons, children will not likely know they are impolite or even obnoxious!
Let me take you back some twenty years when my eldest daughter was just four years old. One fine day, she happened to make a little impact on her aunt who had a daughter of the same age herself. It happened when my sister was out shopping with both little girls in tow. As soon as she dropped my daughter off at my door, she had this to say: “Tell me how you do it!”.
I found out later what had transpired during the course of the day. It seemed that while out shopping, my niece was the demanding little girl we all knew she was all along. She insisted on her mum buying her new toys, dresses, apparel, etc… My sis picked some goodies for my daughter as well, to which she seemed happy and excited to receive. After all, which little kid would not appreciate brand new stuff, right? However, it was at the shoe department that my sister was caught by surprise at something she had never witnessed before. According to her, while her little ‘diva’ was busy picking out several different pairs of fancy footwear, my daughter, when asked to pick one out for herself, looked down at her feet, and replied to her astonished aunt, “It’s ok, my shoes are still good.”
Teach Them Young
To my bewildered sister, that kind of attitude and behaviour in one so young seemed almost unheard of and in a way, she was right. Most toddlers and young children are not inclined to exhibit qualities of appreciation or gratefulness for what they have. These and other life-enriching values that greatly add to one’s contentment in life need to be taught and not left in hopes that they might develop naturally for they will not!
Kids need to know why certain values are important in life and not just how to behave in ways to appear all angelic-like in the company of others! We highly recommend teaching your young ones early in life lessons like the value of hard-earned money used to buy them all the nice stuff they have and also, that they don’t always need to have what others have. The attitudes of appreciating one’s own belongings, sharing, and gratefulness may be taught via various educational methods such as books, CDs and also stories of your own experiences when you were a child. Let’s not tell little ones how to behave, but rather, why they should!
I for one, always utilized ‘myself’. Yes… each time a lesson was called for, I would promptly bring them back to when I was a young child and narrate to them in the most vivid and emotional manner, how I ‘handled’ a situation and why I came out better off and happier. I remember including feelings, emotions and of course, lots of explanations. Now… quit rolling your eyes, for yes, many of those stories were exaggerated and modelled to my teaching advantage, but hey, I had good reasons and the best of intentions. Children will always, always, look up to their parents and are ever willing to emulate and imitate! So… the way I look at it, I gave them something to imitate, and needless to say…. it seemed to have worked!
Cindy Antoinette is a seasoned writer and former editor of BabyTalk Malaysia. She has been active in the writing and publishing scene since the early 90’s and has a passion for all things bright and beautiful in life. She is mother to four children who are between 16 to 24 years of age and insists that motherhood is a lifetime journey of emotions, joy and lessons learned!