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Good Manners
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I grabbed my shin and winced. It had just been kicked by my seven-year-old nephew who wasn’t getting what he wanted. It began at a family picnic a couple of years ago, and I have to admit the situation threw me totally off guard.

He came barreling through the front door of my in-laws home with his ill-tempered demand; “Pour me a glass of juice!”  When I informed him that the drink was on the table outside, he rudely reached out with his foot and struck my leg hard. Almost immediately, the song “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash went through my mind, and I proceeded to deal with the situation kindly, but firmly.

Lost Art

Perhaps it’s the television programming that is served up to our younger generation, where adults play uninformed buffoons who get mistreated by the much more “enlightened” child. Or, maybe parents just don’t put as much stock in it anymore, but good manners seem to have become a lost art in much of our society.

If you’ve ever had the displeasure of a rudely behaved child crowding in front of you in an already packed grocery line, or heard a youngster tell you to “give it” with their hand out towards you, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s exasperating to watch, and even more frustrating to experience.

Parents can start teaching even babies and toddlers to keep control of their anger and act respectfully toward others. It starts with the examples parents set. But it goes deeper than just mere role-modeling the kind of behavior we want our children to display. John Rosemond, a family psychologist tells us that as parents, we need need to begin early "to teach children to control their emotional outbursts, to display good manners, which is a sign of respect, to be responsible for themselves." 1

Anything less than good manners should not only be unacceptable in our homes, but in public too. Holding a high standard for our children and the way they treat others is not only desirable by society, but it’s also the right thing to do. Their lives will be happier, and the lives of those that they come in contact with will be positively impacted.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 The Honolulu Advisor

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