Teaching Old-Fashioned Values in a Modern World

September 21, 2009 by admin 

 

Teaching Old-Fashioned Values in a Modern World

from the publication Parents

There’s no doubt that children are becoming more disrespectful at a young age. And the reason is, well duh: With smart mouthed cartoon characters, obnoxious reality shows, and constant cell phone interruptions, it’s crystal clear that society has become ruder and it’s rubbing off on families. Some moms and dads are settling for behavior that’s barely acceptable rather than holding their kids to the higher standards they grew up with. For instance, parents are happy if their kid simply doesn’t roll his eyes when he meets someone new rather than expecting him/her to greet the person nicely.
Given all the outside influences, it may seem practically impossible to instill good, old fashioned values in a young child. While the wagging finger or scare tactics your parents may have used probably won’t work, these modern approaches from leading experts will. Try them and your kids will get noticed - for their good manners.The Old Fashioned Rule:
{ 1 } Don’t interrupt adults in the middle of a conversation.
You’re trying to talk to a friend and your kid screams over and over again: “Mommy Mommy Mommy MOMMY!” Is there anything more exasperating? Young kids not only have little impulse control and patience, but they also translate your inattention as “Mommy is being taken away from me; I need to get her back.”
TEACH IT TODAY:
We inadvertently feed the problem by telling our children to say ‘excuse me’ as if that’s the magic word. “They say excuse me and we go ahead and answer them. Well, that’s still interruption.” A better way: Explain what’s expected up front: “I’m talking to Mrs. Jones right now. I’m going to be talking for a few minutes, and I don’t want to be interrupted.” If your child is waiting quietly, stop to tell him/her how much you appreciate it and that you’re almost done. If he/she’s not, hold up a finger as a signal to wait. If he/she keeps on, no matter how hard it is to tolerate - don’t give in or she’ll learn that badgering eventually does work to get your attention. Most importantly, hold up your end of the bargain and in a few minutes tend to her needs: “Now it’s your turn.  Thank you for waiting.”
{ 2 } Say “Thank you” without being prodded.
Your kids probably get a lot of gifts and treats. Why can’t they learn to say thank you automatically? “When parents remind their kids in front of a person who gave the gift, the acknowledgement seems so insincere.
TEACH IT TODAY:
Reword your reminders. Instead of asking your kid to say thank you, say, “It’s the right time to show how much you appreciate your gift.” Then kids aren’t repeating your words. They get used to giving the acknowledgement on their own.
Also get your child in the habit of helping you write thank-you notes. Toddlers can draw a picture, preschoolers may be able to print their name or the first letter of it. How much they can do isn’t important.  The point is to re-enforce that it’s polite to thank someone for a gift.
{ 3 } Greet Adults with “Hello” and a proper name.
When most kids do say something to welcome an adult, they look at the ground and mumble or ignore.
TEACH IT TODAY:
Role-play it at home. Pretend you’re Aunt Sally or your child’s teacher and have him practice saying hello to you. Encourage him to smile or wave and clearly and pleasantly greet the person. If he’s reluctant to look up, challenge him to find the color of her eyes. Once he feels comfortable with the process around the house, chances are he’ll try it out in public. But it’ll work better if you let it be his idea rather than yours.

{ 4 } Hold the door.
Many kids barge through a door, barely noticing the person who opened it or worse still, whether it’s going to slam in someone’s face. They don’t automatically think that they should get the door; you have to explain to them that it’s the kind thing to do.
TEACH IT TODAY:
Practice at every opportunity. Once introduced to the concept, young kids love to hold doors because they feel like big strong helpers doing a very important job. Start at home: “Mommy’s carrying a lot of groceries. Who can hold the door for me?” At the store or at school, where doors may be heavy for a young child to hold on their own, ask them to help you: “Here comes Mrs. Roberts and Brian. Let’s hold the door for them because that’s the polite thing to do.” Begin very low-key and then one day - because you’re not requiring it or demanding it - you’ll be amazed to hear your child say, “Mommy, I can do it myself.”

{ 5 } If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. (My personal favorite!)
Young kids learn from watching TV today that it’s okay - even sometimes funny - when people say rude things to each other. Add that to the fact that a young child’s sense of empathy isn’t fully developed, and it’s a recipe for a humiliating situation.
TEACH IT TODAY:
First, resist watching inappropriate TV shows - or, at least discuss the problem behavior with your child. For instance say, “Do you think that was mean of Simon to talk to the singer like that?” Then let your child know what she says has the power to hurt the feelings of another kid or adult. See whether she can recall an example of a time when her feelings were hurt so that you can be sure she grasps the concept. It’s also worth making up scenarios and asking her whether the person in the story said a good or bad thing. The more concrete you can make it for her, the better she’ll understand it.

{ 6 } Give up your seat.
It usually doesn’t cross a young kid’s mind that giving up a seat to an older person on the train or at a party is the polite thing to do. The chances he’ll actually do it are even slimmer.
TEACH IT TODAY:
Lead by example. The next time you’re riding a crowded bus or train, ask your child to sit with you. Say: “Would you come sit here on my lap so this nice man can have a seat? I think he would really appreciate it.” The more often children see you do it, the more liable they are to come up with the idea themselves.

Interesting Fact:
Lose the Excuses!
“He didn’t have his nap today”….”She’s just hungry”…..”He doesn’t usually act like this….”
It’s incredibly tempting to make excuses for your child when he behaves rudely in public. “When you do this, children get the message that they don’t have to answer for their behavior because their parents have done it for them. Instead, apologize for the inappropriate behavior. That sends the message, “I did something wrong, and Mommy and Daddy have to say they’re sorry about it to others.”

 

Thank you to the magazine Parents for this fantastic article and for Laurie who typed it all up (since it was not available online through Parents) and allowing me to post it here!

 

 

Comments

One Response to “Teaching Old-Fashioned Values in a Modern World”

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