Manners are not hard to come by, as long as we start inculcating them in our children when they are young. Just take the example of Japan, where it is reported that in Japanese schools, manners come before knowledge. It is generally known that the objective for the first years of school focuses not on knowledge or grades, but on inculcating manners and fostering character development in students.
While we may not have a similar case like that of Japan, we can still be effective in teaching our young ones on ‘how to have manners’. Having manners leads to positive aspects in other areas, including being grateful and developing patience.
Good manners you can instil in your child:
1. Say good morning and goodnight, or find creative ways of greeting at rising or going to sleep: ‘Love you Dad’, say good morning with a kiss, hug, peekaboo! and more.
2. In the old days of the Cantonese culture, children are to greet all adults seated at the dining table before eating. Perhaps this is a good culture to reinstate. Say ‘Grandpa, Grandma, Dad and Mum, let’s eat.’
3. Eat your meals at the dining table, not in front of the TV.
4. Avoid talking with your mouth full.
5. Do not take the best foods for yourself. Take your designated portion, and leave the other portions for others.
6. When the meal is over, say thank you. This is so that we do not take food and its preparation for granted.
7. Say please when requesting for items and thank you when receiving them.
8. Receive presents with both hands.
9. When queuing up, don’t jump the queue; wait patiently for your turn to come.
10. Don’t interrupt others; let them finish talking or if you really need to interrupt, raise your hand to request to speak.
11. While on the bus with Mum, move to the back and don’t block the exit. This is courtesy to everyone who, like you, wants to go home.
12. Be a good listener when others are talking to you. Do not look to the right or left or past the speaker as you’ll appear disinterested, or rude.
13. Knock on the door that you wish to enter.
14. Close the door behind you.
15. Don’t leave things lying around. Pack up when you have finished playing.
16. When you are at home, keep noise levels down. Bear in mind that Dad and Mum may be resting after a long week or Grandpa and Grandma may be sleeping in during the weekend.
17. Greet others, whether they are relatives or Dad and Mum’s friends when you see them. A nice ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’, or gege (big brother) and jiejie (big sister) for the younger people, will make their day.
18. Refrain from plucking flowers from plants. By doing this, you are destroying someone’s labour of love, as flowers do not grow overnight. So, do leave the flowers there for everyone’s admiration.
19. When your friend lends you her toys or books, play or read them with care. Don’t return them in a dilapidated state.
20. Remember to wear a smile. A smile is positively infectious, and the recipient of your good manners will indeed be joyous with your act of kindness – and happiness.