With the decline of civility and manners in public life, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that so many young people lack basic manners. There are other factors, of course, such as the breakdown of the family unit and the lack of privacy and decorum in the media. There is much to be said about how bad it is and what has caused the lack of decency and manners, but I want to offer a positive perspective for those who care to train kids to be polite.
Kids with manners will stand out as all-stars, like never before. It is simply amazing to see how kids with good manners are rewarded for being counter-cultural.
A friend of mine needed some help moving into his new home. He said, “I had two students from a huge public high school help me move this summer. I was a little leery when I learned that they were two of the top athletes in the school. They had better manners than just about any high school kid I’d ever met. I asked them about it and they essentially said that interacting with adults the way that the majority of their peers made them just look like everybody else. They said they could have gotten a tattoo to be different the same way as everyone around them. Or, they could do something really different and simply go through life saying ‘please, thank you, yes sir and no ma’am.’ I paid them double what I said I would.”
Let’s help kids get this sort of edge on the competition. That means we have to model good manners, explain why it’s helpful, show them how to do it, correct them gently, and thank them for the times they get it right. It will pay big dividends for them for the rest of their lives. Good manners will yield success for young people in some surprising ways.
LINKS to specifics lists of good manners: