“Teaching” Good Manners to a Child

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We decided to go to Grandma’s Work and come bring her flowers for Mother’s Day.  So, we gave her a bouquet and told her to go give the flowers to Grandma.  She ran into the showroom (where she’s never been before), found Grandma and gave her the flowers with a, “Here y’go Gdammma!!”  Just adorable!!I think we’ve all seen this scenario, where some kid around you drops something, you pick it up for them – glad to help – and then the mom sternly snarls at her kid, “Now WILLIS– WHAT-DO-YOU-SAY!???”, and Willis then sheepishly, detachedly says, “..d-d-d-dank you?”  You know the little kid is only doing it because of his mom’s nasty glare, and not because he feels like saying it.  (and the mom would probably smack him afterwards if he didn’t say it)

Now, my daughter is still 3 months shy of 2 years old.  But somehow, she’s got fantastic manners.  She says “Thank you!” when you hand her something, she says “Bless you mommy” when mommy sneezes, she says “You’re welcome!” when you thank her for something — it’s really just precious to behold.   And she says her “THANK YOU”’s with such a smile, that you know she means it.

Reflecting on this a few days ago – my wife and I were both sort of amazed that nowhere along the line did we ever try to train her to say thank you, etc.  She just sort of picked it up.

Yesterday afternoon, I came across a great passage while studying the companion to the Dianetics Professional Course lectures – it’s from an October 1950 article by L. Ron Hubbard entitled The Analytical Mind.  The passage:

A parent may believe that a child learns to use a napkin, knife and fork merely because he is told that if he doesn’t use them properly, he will be spanked.  By test, this inhibits the natural learning, putting an artificial command under the natural ability to mimic.  The common result of this is to cause the child to revolt.  If the child is permitted to observe, without coaching or coaxing, adults eating with knives and forks and using napkins, the child, unless badly aberrated, will, by test, struggle and fumble to mimic.  And it will come up at last with manners, better manners than those forced upon it, providing the parents themselves know how to use table silver and napkins properly.  When the child, like those trained in the pre-Dianetic school of “Only being a child is important.  Don’t inhibit the little thing, for the whole family revolves around it, you little fool,” has lost any urge to be a grown-up, he avoids mimicry of grown-ups and mimics children.  But he mimics.   — LRH

Amazing, I think – as that’s exactly what I’ve observed thus far.  And it backs up some of my other observations on mimicry as a key element of parenting – and another great reason why it’s so important to set a good example for your kids!  It’s the best way for them to learn!

Anyone else have similar experience?

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