Saying good morning, thank you, goodbye is an important part of a child's education.
Sometimes, when we come across a very polite child, we tell ourselves that their parents are incredibly lucky, as if politeness were luck. However, politeness is not a matter of chance. It doesn’t magically appear with most people, but can—and dare I say must—be acquired. It is the fruit of patience and consistency by parents who care about their child’s welfare.
Politeness makes everyday life infinitely more pleasant, and human relations so much easier. It is like the oil in a machine. Politeness is pleasant for the person on the receiving end, but first and foremost for the person who employs it. Consider the child who feels more at ease with adults by knowing how to say good morning. In the same way, the one who receives the act of politeness knows that he or she has been the object of another’s attention. It is thus imperative to teach our children, from the time they are very young, these rules of courtesy.
Repetition pays off
The transmission of this life skill became hindered when politeness came to be considered a series of rules and social conventions that we should break away from. The loss of deference to authority and honoring elders has certainly contributed to that. The use of politeness requires a relationship of respect, of a giver and a receiver, of a teacher to one being taught.
We need to apply ourselves to this task as parents because everything becomes easier when our children acquire manners. From 18 months on, a child can say thank you. He still doesn’t speak, but it doesn’t matter, he will imitate the gesture of his parents who gives him a cookie by opening and closing her hand: the first gesture of recognition that says thank you. We can then move on quickly to teaching them to wait to let an adult go first, to have them repeat “I’m sorry,” when they cross in front of someone. And a young child can understand “good morning” and “good night.”
Teaching politeness takes perseverance and repetition. It will only be effective if you are consistent and if you model manners in your own life.
Inès de Franclieu