During my latest visit to the happiest place on earth (Starbucks, as it’s known to the layperson), I marveled at the professionalism of the associate manning the drive-through window.
I’m guessing that he was in his early twenties, which is why it was so striking.
“How are you doing on this wonderful Saturday morning?”…was his initial comment, and that was accompanied with a genuine smile.
He was positive, enthusiastic, and shockingly polite.
I could only assume that Starbucks had done a great job of setting good expectations for their people…and this one took the training to heart.
But, is polite, courteous behavior something that’s traditionally taught by an organization?
I finally came to the conclusion that it was more probable that the young man had been raised by people who cared to teach him manners.
Seriously, when was the last time you came away from an interaction with a young person thinking, “Wow, that kid was raised right!”?
Come to think of it…when was the last time your kids surprised you with their manners?
Do you have multiple examples? Or, is it a challenge to recall the last time?
Either way, you are likely the cause…as exciting or as sobering as that may be.
A Little Gut Check
This has been a recent point of contention in my house.
My wife and I have very good intentions, and for the most part, our kids know how to be courteous towards others.
However, a strange thing happens as you get busy. You sometimes get a little lazy.
You don’t completely abandon your teaching, you just stop requiring the “please’s” and “thank you’s” or the courteous tone of voice.
Like us, you suddenly find your three year-old demanding a snack or your six year-old refusing to thank her sister for being kind.
Or, you face my personal pet peeve…your child refuses to respond to an adult when they are spoken to.
It may sound trivial, but the small things carry a lot of significance.
Yes, you’re Becoming Lax
So, what are the signs that tell you that you need to tune up your “manner meter”?
- When you experience polite behavior, you stand comatose and often lose control of your bodily fluids.
- Your child says “please” and you respond by reminding them that you don’t speak Mandarin.
- Your child begins any verbal interaction with you in a voice that can only be construed as yelling.
- When thirsty, your kids communicate with you by shaking their empty cups, as though deaf and mute.
- You personally do any of these things yourself.
The Answer is Simple
Of all the things you need to teach your kids, teaching them to be courteous is really not that difficult.
It simply takes presence of mind and consistency.
For example, if you want your kids to say “please” and “thank you” then require it. If their requests don’t involve these words then your answer is no…until they can ask appropriately. Or, if you want to be really hardcore, you may even deny them the request until the following day.
You should also be using the same courteous words and tone yourself.
Nothing reeks of hypocrisy like telling your kids to do something that you are unwilling to do yourself.
Have you had success in teaching your kids how to be polite?
Or, have you really struggled in this area?
Regardless of your experience, let us know what you’ve encountered.
You might just convince someone else that polite kids don’t have to be mythical creatures. You can actually raise one yourself!
For a nice little reference, I’ve added a video to help you along your way.