Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are manners not being taught to children anymore?

These are the words that my family
reads each time they leave the house
I have found that as with most things in raising my son Colin, who has Asperger's Syndrom, teaching him social skills has to be one of the hardest things ever. I believe in teaching children to be polite to others, period. Sometimes we just don't agree with another person’s actions or opinions, but we still have to be polite to them. This skill is one of the hardest things to teach my son. Everything that enters his mind is very literal. For example, if you tell him that your phone is blowing up, he thinks that it is really blowing up, not the way you meant it as lots of phone calls or texts. Sarcasm eludes him, they tend to go over his head, or hit him like a brick, not the way that one would intend for them. 

My inspiration for writing this post is a simple encounter with a local grocery store clerk. While out grabbing a few fill-in groceries this morning, my four children went to the bakery to score their traditional free "good going" cookie. To set the simple scene, my four children wander over to the bakery department, & engage the bakery clerk with their typical, "please may I have a cookie." Now let me remind you, it has been very difficult to get Colin to appropriately interact socially with people. He was the one who started saying "please" and said it with the correct tone! I felt like I was on top of the world, I wanted to shout, "Did you all hear that? Yup, my son said something socially appropriate, without any reminder what-so-ever!" Instead, I just beamed inside, because after all, I did say that I was trying to teach my children how to be polite and behave appropriately in public. That is when the bakery clerk says "I haven't heard a child say 'please' in a very long time, your children are very polite and well behaved." I started to choke up, much like I am right now as I am typing this out. It is not every day that my kids get complimented on their behavior. That isn't to say that they aren't well behaved, it is that people are so busy going about their everyday life, that they don't take time to either notice &/or say anything. So this took me by surprise. 

So now, here I am thinking to myself, well actually out loud now, do parents take the time to teach their children manners? I know that as with everything that has to do with parenting, there is no right or wrong way to do it, so I apologize if I offend you. It is more out of pure curiosity that I question this at all. I was taught to say "please", "thank you", "yes/no sir/ma'am," etc. Times are much different, and common courtesy & sense are things that are falling by the way side. I have felt it a calling in my duties as a mother, to teach my children to always be polite, which as many parents who have children on the 
Autism Spectrum know all too well, is very difficult. Having four children, with very different personalities and abilities, one thing that I am very consistent with is their manners. Colin has caught on to this much easier at home, it is much easier for him to do things in smaller groups and where he is comfortable. So to see him shine out in public, with a lot of people that he doesn't know, I get a huge sense of pride. 

My challenge for my readers, which is a very simple task, would be to use "please" and "thank you" at appropriate times around your children. Watch them pick up on it, and bask in the glory of knowing that is something important that you passed on to them. Go out of your way to be polite to someone, or help your child understand that people think and behave a different way than they do, but it doesn't make it alright to make the other person feel bad for it. These are challenges that our family faces on almost an everyday basis. Smile at a stranger, compliment someone for something, anything, and most of all, hug your kiddos. Have a blessed day.

To read a little bit more about our life with our son Colin, read 

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