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when to start with manners? - Page 5

post #81 of 317
Quote:
The impulsive, blunt honesty of a 6 year old makes me laugh more than anything...even if they had said it about my own dinner. I guess I just don't get all hurt and bent out of shape by like, 6 year olds.
Okay, I never said I thought it was cute when children hurt people's feelings. I was speaking only in the context of myself, that if a 6 year old said the dinner I made was gross I would probably laugh inwardly, thinking, well heck, at least the kid's honest. That is just me.

When I was very overdue and we were eating at a local diner, a little girl was walking into the bathroom as I was walking out. She was about 5 I would say. Well, she turns to her mom, her eyes big as saucers and said "wow mama, that lady has a BIGGGGGG belly!!!" Was she being rude or just making an observation? Well, I took it as the honest observation of a small child and I laughed. I bent down and said to her, "My belly is big because I am growing a baby in there!" She asked a couple of questions and wanted to feel my stomach. Her mother looked SO freaking relieved because I am sure she was expecting a dirty look and for me to think her daughter was so rude and whatnot. I didn't.

Same goes for children who say things are gross or whatever. I guess I just give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to them not having the impulse control or the right words at the moment to express that they don't like peas or whatever. I don't come to it as if the child is a rude brat who is hell bent on hurting feelings. It is all about perspective.

Yes, I want our daughter to learn manners and appropriate social behavior. I am hoping to accomplish this by the time she gets old enough to be out in the world through modeling, everyday discussion, and her own personal observations about the world and about how people respond positively or negatively based on the words and actions she uses. I don't expect this to be accomplished at 6 years old. I would much rather foster and support authenticity in her words and actions FIRST, and worry about pleasing others in a social situation second.

No one is saying I would be congratulating her and turning cartwheels if she said someone's dinner was gross. Of course I don't want her to knowingly hurt someone's feelings or be *rude* or whatever....but I am not going to force anything, or "gently remind" in public, or whatever. I am perfectly content to model and to pick up the slack (so to speak) while she is little, by apologizing or thanking for her in her presence rather than reminding her to do it in front of people or giving her a look or whatever.
post #82 of 317
Not sure I have anything "nice" to say at this point; sometimes, I choose not to say anything at all. But, I am choosing it, not being prompted/reminded or given a "look" by anyone attempting to control me to meet their *expectations* of my behavior. Sometimes, I don't keep my opinion to myself and I am willing to accept the consequences of that too. I just don't impose consequences on our child in order to modify his behavior. He is observant enough to choose whether he considers it "gross" enough to say something or not, just as I do. And we learn portable skills quickly when we rely on our own observations and experience the accountability of Real Life to teach us manners. The process of others attempting to control how we "should" act, diminishes personal responsibility for our own actions.

***Not in an imposed "logical consequences" sort of way, but in a non-correcting, non-punitive means of not interfering with safe learning opportunities. Children learn manners through observation without being pressured to perform to standards established by parents. The reactions of others provides ample catalyst to choose their behavior independently. Children are learning all the time. Directing their behavior 'to social customs, be polite and say the correct things' eliminates opportunities to choose accountability for one owns choices.

Accountability and authenticity are important values for me to avoid interrupting our son from having opportunities to learn. More of a priority than interrupting his possible rudeness. But, sometimes, there is no "nice" way to point that out. Yes, honesty and personal accountability are the cornerstones of choice. Not everyone wants to accept the consequences of their own choices. When we remove the opportunities to experience the consequences of the impact of our own actions on others, we lose the potential to learn why rudeness matters. (Especially if someone is rude while "teaching" when rudeness matters. )

Pat
post #83 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
We covered this part a while back... I go look for some quotes...

ETA: Well, there's too much to quote easily, but this was discussed back starting at the end of the 1st page, and a lot on the second page. My points on this particular aspect of the discussion can be found in post #28...

HTH.
Yes I read that and here is what was said
Quote:
Either he will resent being made to express thoughts that are not his, or he'll just do it and his ability to actually foster feelings of gratitude will be hampered. Maybe both. The point is that language usage helps form our thinking patterns, and misused language clutters and harms our ability to think a certain way - like having actual gratitude.
Which is not really an explanation but a restatement of your position. You say here that it hampers feelings of gratitude. You also say that misused language clutters and harms our ability to think a certain way.
But this is not an explanation, it is simply your postulate reworded.
Why and how is this postualte true? I do not believe it to be so at all.
A restatement of something you believe to be true is not the same thing as answering the queston "but why?" or "how".
And so when I read statements like that, I still can read the whole thread and feel like the question "how" was never truly answered.
post #84 of 317
I have gone through a lengthy process of answering these questions for myself. It requires digging very deep into your own psyche and challenging all your assuptions. If it's important enough to you, I suppose you will have to do similar.

If you're looking for a starting point, as I suggested earlier, Alice Miller. Noam Chomsky writes about the linguistic pathways formed by our experiences - you can sift through his political opinions if they don't suit you. Jean Liedloff gives some ideas about challenging our suppositions of humans and culture.

But you have to answer "how" for yourself, if you're so inclined. Just feel it.

Or you can ignore it all and just not like what I have to say. That's fine too. But trying to over-intellectualize deep feelings is counterproductive, so I won't get into a weird discussion like that...
post #85 of 317
I'm just really done with this discussion. I've laid out my thoughts pretty clearly, and I'm too tired today to do it anymore...

Good luck, all.
post #86 of 317
I continue to be bewildered by the concept that other people know when *other people's children* are embarrassed. Even when other posters say they specifically asked their kids and the kids say they do not find such reminders embarrassing! Can't we recognize that embarrassment is a complex emotion and that different people feel it at very different times and in different ways? If I begin to notice that my child seems embarrassed or upset by "manners reminders," I will certainly reassess the way I handle the situation.

Anyway, yes, I believe in the value of standard manners, being kind to others even when it is not "authentic," (do you let your kids hit other people when they authentically want to?) and an occasional little white lie. If this makes me a GD failure--c'est la vie. There are other matters I find far more pressing and significant in my GD strivings.

It would of course be wonderful if all of us, including our small children, reached an enlightened state of omni-gratitude towards others such that we all automatically felt total gratitude even for unwanted gifts or misguided kind gestures. I think this is asking an awful lot of my child, though--it's asking a lot of me, as an adult. Therefore, in order to help my child make her way through the world, I will continue to teach her about politeness and expressing gratitude. As she gets older, I anticipate an eventual conversation about the "little white lie" and about rare occasions when lying is okay. (Think of a surprise party, for instance.) I think it is very possible to teach a child to honor his/her authenticity while keeping it muted under some circumstances. I will certainly explain WHY we thank others for things we don't like and why we don't call a meal someone has worked hard on "gross."

Perhaps some of you here are never inauthentic about anything, ever. I would not get along well in the world if I was not occasionally inauthentic. For instance, to give a common and very relevant example, I am not terribly fond of my mother-in-law, for various reasons. Do I behave authentically when she annoys the daylights out of me in unimportant ways? I do not. Obviously, if she crossed some line (say, if she spoke to DD roughly or something) I would speak up, but I am not talking about "big" things here--just the little things people do that make you want to scream. If I DID scream, I don't think such "authenticity" would be very helpful to my family or my child.
post #87 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
I have gone through a lengthy process of answering these questions for myself. It requires digging very deep into your own psyche and challenging all your assuptions. If it's important enough to you, I suppose you will have to do similar.

If you're looking for a starting point, as I suggested earlier, Alice Miller. Noam Chomsky writes about the linguistic pathways formed by our experiences - you can sift through his political opinions if they don't suit you. Jean Liedloff gives some ideas about challenging our suppositions of humans and culture.

But you have to answer "how" for yourself, if you're so inclined. Just feel it.

Or you can ignore it all and just not like what I have to say. That's fine too. But trying to over-intellectualize deep feelings is counterproductive, so I won't get into a weird discussion like that...
I completely get this. It is more of an internal truth you have arrived at rather than something that can be put convincingly in simple terms.
Thank you for your explanation
post #88 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamama
***Not in an imposed "logical consequences" sort of way, but in a non-correcting, non-punitive means of not interfering with safe learning opportunities. Children learn manners through observation without being pressured to perform to standards established by parents. The reactions of others provides ample catalyst to choose their behavior independently. Children are learning all the time. Directing their behavior 'to social customs, be polite and say the correct things' eliminates opportunities to choose accountability for one owns choices.
Sorry, but I have to disagree here. Yes, some children pick up on social customs all on their own. Some children are very extroverted, people-oriented social butterflies. I know one. I have seen her quickly evaluate social situations and choose the appropriate behavior. She probably needs little to no coaching, it's inherent to her.

However, I believe that our social customs are much more inscrutable to other children, and need more explanation. My nephew, for example. He is not particularly socially aware. He is "inner-directed", and does not often realize that he might be hurting other people's feelings. I have seen him playing with his friends and cousins, and it is obvious that he is ostracized and often disliked, and this in turn frustrates him greatly. My brother and his wife never say anything to him about it. I think they are doing him a disservice by witholding this knowledge from him, knowledge he is clearly having a very hard time acquiring on his own.

I think it would be much, much kinder to occasionally pull him aside and say, "You know, it seems like X doesn't like to be told how to put the Legos together. Why don't you try just watching him and not instructing him?" or "It could really hurt someone's feelings if you told them what they had cooked for you was gross. In the future, I expect you to just refuse it politely. Can you think of some ways to do that?" etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamama
Accountability and authenticity are important values for me to avoid interrupting our son from having opportunities to learn. More of a priority than interrupting his possible rudeness. But, sometimes, there is no "nice" way to point that out. Yes, honesty and personal accountability are the cornerstones of choice. Not everyone wants to accept the consequences of their own choices. When we remove the opportunities to experience the consequences of the impact of our own actions on others, we lose the potential to learn why rudeness matters. (Especially if someone is rude while "teaching" when rudeness matters. )
So if your son was consistently making a poor choice that you knew would result in heartache for him, it would be more important to let him make that choice unfettered than risk embarassing him with your advice/correction?
post #89 of 317
:

I completely agree. Maybe my take on this is partly because I suspect my daughter is going to be like your nephew. She is very, very inner-directed and while outgoing and friendly, does not pick up on social cues the way some children do. (For instance, some two-year-olds will attempt to comfort someone who is hurt or sad; mine would never do this. Not in her nature right now.) Also, my own nephew--the one who throws gifts down and makes faces--has had a LOT of trouble making and keeping friends. I'm pretty sure his parents' total lack of interest in cultivating his social "IQ" has something to do with that.
post #90 of 317
natensarah - the case of your nephew seems to be different than what we are talking about on here...at least i thought we were just talking about our general policies on teaching manners from an early age. i would hope that most of us would intervene if we saw our children suffering and being ostracized for antisocial behavior...maybe i'm wrong...but i know that wasn't the scenario i was talking about when i replied.
post #91 of 317
i also think that it's possible to teach social graces without demanding pat answers on the spot.
post #92 of 317
I just read a beautifully-characterized novel - one of the characters was a woman who was unfailingly "authentic" to herself - always absolutely true to herself and honored her own feelings. Never hesitated to tell "the brutal truth" regardless of the pain she caused. Other characters, traumatized by her merciless tongue, always fell back on the "Well, but she is always HONEST, and that's valuable." The problem ... she was in fact a compulsive liar, because lying was a convenient way to honor her AUTHENTIC DESIRES.

This little story is kindof tangential, I know, but illustrates something being discussed here. "Authenticity" is something I think all GD mamas honor. But sometimes kids AUTHENTICALLY want to have their way at all costs - be selfish - to hit, to snatch, whatever. At some point, for most kids, modeling niceness won't be enough. Empathy often needs to be developed and nurtured. Is that compromising their (absolutely authentic) self-centeredness? Yeah, I think it is. I also think it's something we MUST do to raise our little ones well.

Bottom line, I think complete unfailing "authenticity to one's own self" is a nice way of saying "complete narcissism" or even "sociopathy." I think we do our little ones no favors if we teach them to put their desires first every time. Like the Mexican proverb says, "If you raise crows, they'll pick out your eyes." And I KNOW that empathy, including the social graces, can be taught without trauma in more ways than one.
post #93 of 317
Quote:
Bottom line, I think complete unfailing "authenticity to one's own self" is a nice way of saying "complete narcissism" or even "sociopathy."
Wow. I disagree with that on so many levels it is almost not worth getting into. Your post strikes me as coming from the perspective that children can be inately bad or evil or selfish. I don't agree with that sentiment AT ALL. I believe any *selfishness* small children display is merely them wanting to fufill a need or desire and not fully understanding the impact on others. In other words, I don't think a child thinks like an adult would in the respect that they are willing to get what they want at any cost or pain to others around them (like some adults do).

How does forcing a child who doesn't feel something to lie about what they are feeling to recieve positive re-enforcement from a bigger person teaching any kind of empathy or authenticity? Or are you saying that authenticity to one's feelings and emotions a bad thing?

I get the feeling that some people in this thread really just want to be viewed as parents who have a polite child. It doesn't matter if the child doesn't like the gift, hates the meal, the sweater itches, or whatever...as long as they smile on cue and say thank you and make the person feel good, the person can look at the parents and think "why what a wonderful job those parents are doing...little johnny says thank you so nicely."

I let that go a long time ago. Yes, in a bizarro world where other people's judgements dictate how I raise my child, my 5 year old would be genuinely thankful for everything she recieves and have the capacity of realizing that loving sentiment matters as much as the gift and that there are people in the world who have less than us and that my parenting of her is judged on how well she can behave....but that ain't happening (not completely, at 5 anyway) and that is okay.

I am convinced, and have so much faith in the pureness of my little girl's heart and spirit and mind, that she will observe the world around her, observe our modeling, our frank, open discussions about anything and everything, and in most instances, act accordingly...and when and if she doesn't...other people will have to be a little less self obsorbed and realize it is not about them and that my daughter is not a performing monkey who says the right things on cue at all times. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
post #94 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
I get the feeling that some people in this thread really just want to be viewed as parents who have a polite child. It doesn't matter if the child doesn't like the gift, hates the meal, the sweater itches, or whatever...as long as they smile on cue and say thank you and make the person feel good, the person can look at the parents and think "why what a wonderful job those parents are doing...little johnny says thank you so nicely."
So don't you think children notice how people respond to them? Do you think children like it when they notice people responding in a negative way to them? Or if they don't notice the cues at all and are continually frustrated by their inability to relate to people? Or is it all about the parent looking good?

AND, for the record, I don't think there's anything wrong at all with a child smiling on cue and saying thank you and making the person feel good. Making a person feels good. Learning that you dcan put aside your discomfort temporarily and that you can put another person's feelings first feels good, too. In fact, it's one of the most important things I want my children to learn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
I am convinced, and have so much faith in the pureness of my little girl's heart and spirit and mind, that she will observe the world around her, observe our modeling, our frank, open discussions about anything and everything, and in most instances, act accordingly...and when and if she doesn't...other people will have to be a little less self obsorbed and realize it is not about them and that my daughter is not a performing monkey who says the right things on cue at all times. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Well, I'm not sure that other five year olds, seven year olds, nine year olds, etc. are going to be able to be less self absorbed and realize its all about my daughter or son. And I don't expect that I will be there to mediate all this. So I want to equip them with the social skills they need, and when they grow up they can decide how to use them.
post #95 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by crescentaluna
Bottom line, I think complete unfailing "authenticity to one's own self" is a nice way of saying "complete narcissism" or even "sociopathy." I think we do our little ones no favors if we teach them to put their desires first every time. Like the Mexican proverb says, "If you raise crows, they'll pick out your eyes." And I KNOW that empathy, including the social graces, can be taught without trauma in more ways than one.
You have beautifully said here what I have felt, but not had the "nerve" to say.
post #96 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
I get the feeling that some people in this thread really just want to be viewed as parents who have a polite child. It doesn't matter if the child doesn't like the gift, hates the meal, the sweater itches, or whatever...as long as they smile on cue and say thank you and make the person feel good, the person can look at the parents and think "why what a wonderful job those parents are doing...little johnny says thank you so nicely.".
YOu have this only slightly off. I think most of us want our CHILDREN to be viewed as polite for their own sake becaues it is an excellent quality to have and foster. I do want my children to be perceived as polite. But not because it makes ME look good. Because it makes THEM look good.
post #97 of 317
Hey captain crunchy - Sorry the post struck you the wrong way. I didn't mean my comment about "undiluted 'authenticity' = selfishness" to apply to CHILDREN, actually. I was talking about ADULTS - should have made that clear.
Quote:
Your post strikes me as coming from the perspective that children can be inately bad or evil or selfish. I don't agree with that sentiment AT ALL. I believe any *selfishness* small children display is merely them wanting to fufill a need or desire and not fully understanding the impact on others.
First, no! no! no! I absolutely don't believe human nature is innately bad or evil. But selfishness ... it's a very tricky area. All kids go through a period of self-centeredness, you'd agree with that, right? And some kids are naturally very empathetic, and their self-centerdness is a stage they easily pass through. But every child also has their own vivid personality ... some are not so sensitive to observing others, some have a real hard time developing empathy. And there are things like Asperger's which complicate things.

My personal passage through life involves trying to walk the Buddhist path, which has me trying to disassociate my "first impulse" (what you could call a "purely authentic" response") from the right thing to do. I see a stinky homeless guy outside the market, honestly, my first impulse is to pretend not to see him. But I try to modulate that "authentic" response by checking in and trying to honestly assess what the best thing to do is. Or another example - I'm naturally a sarcastic person, and I'm trying to become a person who doesn't use language to hurt others. It means not being "authentic" to some, but I don't feel it's false, and i sure don't feel my nature is evil or flawed.

So that's MY struggle as an adult. But i believe children, at some stage, need to go through a really similar process - you have your first impulse, maybe to grab the gift and run off without a 'thank you' or maybe to hit that kid or take his trike. Just because it's your innate response don't make it the best resonse. I've been priveleged to help raise 2 kids to early adulthood (now 19 and 22) and one was just naturally empathetic, naturally considerate, and modelling was really all he ever needed to become a truly courteous child - even as a toddler. His sister is a different person; she needed modelling, and verbal guidance, and to really have empathy explained situation by situation. Things like, "Don't have gramma come for Christmas! She's too fat and ugly!" Not polite, not kind at age 8. I would call that "authentic" but also "selfish." And we didn't feel that kind of statement should be honored. Ya know, they are both AMAZING, caring, considerate, giving, beautiful adults now, lights of my life. But their paths to that adulthood was different, and involved more than just supporting their every innate impulse.

You know, as I write, I realize I'm thinking more of "how do we/should we teach consideration?" rather than "how do we/should we teach MANNERS?" Which I know is the thread topic, really, but I guess I feel that the courtesy that matters comes from consideration. Pro-forma mumbling "please, thank you" doesn't seem very valuable to me.

I do see how poorly written my earlier post was, too. I was putting "authenticity" in quotes because i think sometimes it CAN be a way for adults to justify their selfishness. "Sorry honey, I was unfaithful because I really had to be authentic to my desires." But it's an important word. For me, being truly authentic to my best self is what I'm trying to do on my Buddhist path.

Sorry, i know this is muddled, but I wanted to clarify and further the discussion and I'm nursing my babe at the same time! Hope it makes some sense anyway.
post #98 of 317
I hate to interupt, but i wonder if veronique(who originally posted this thread) got the answer she was looking for!It sure has turned into quite a discussion! LOL
post #99 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by johub
YOu have this only slightly off. I think most of us want our CHILDREN to be viewed as polite for their own sake becaues it is an excellent quality to have and foster. I do want my children to be perceived as polite. But not because it makes ME look good. Because it makes THEM look good.
so if it makes THEM look good in the eyes of OTHERS to lie to grandma and say her itchy sweater is fantastic, that's priority #1? i think that there's a middle ground. you can be honest without a blanket "thank you". if you're talking about an older child here (which I hope you are, because if you're talking about 2year olds then I can't really think of much else to say other than "no"), then he or she will be able to grasp the concept that Grandma did a nice thing for me, and even though I think the sweater sucks and is ugly, i am thankful that I have a Grandma that loves me so much she'd knit something for me. gratitude can be a complex thing for a little kid, and i think that it behooves us as parents to help them untangle it. simply forcing them to put on a smile and say "thanks" no matter what crap is placed before them isn't really helping much, imo. far better for me to accept the fact that sometimes they're gonna receive crap or are gonna be disappointed and have to show those emotions or feel those emotions in a productive way. i don't intend to ever sweep those *authentic* feelings under the rug to placate someone else's ego. i will always encourage manners and politeness, but not at the risk of keeping my children out of touch with how they *actually* feel or out of touch with what it *really* means to feel thankful or grateful.
post #100 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kira's mom
I hate to interupt, but i wonder if veronique(who originally posted this thread) got the answer she was looking for!It sure has turned into quite a discussion! LOL
LOL probably not. seems like many are advocating for the kind of thing that her SIL is doing, which is exactly what she sees as NOT working for their family. oh well.
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