Sunday, January 14, 2007

'Nobody wants to see your finger up your nose'

The great art of etiquette - for children

Babies are born rude. It is the duty of adults to transform them from loud house guests into charming people. At least that's the message we get in a new wave of books on etiquette. These books are all over the map, with some being better than others, as the New York Times reports.

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Rose said...

I didn't know that babies were born rude. I thought that was a learned behavior...but to me those etiquette books don't work, it's hands on for me as a parent.

Alina said...

I think babies are simply born natural. They make no distinction between being rude or polite. Yes, parents have to teach them how to make that distinction, but putting a "rude" label is not right.

Deb S. said...

Rose: I agree.

Rose and Alina: I don't think the writers are really serious when they say babies are born rude. I think it's an attempt at humor. But I don't think it went over too well with Alina. :-)

I think the point is that children aren't born with good manners - that we must teach them that. I agree with Rose that we adults have to take the leadership role there. Books alone won't do it, but I think books can reinforce what we teach our children. And we can start teaching kids good manners at an early age in language that they understand.

Toddlers won't know it's not nice to stick their fingers in their noses unless we tell them. The quote in the header comes from Whoopi Goldberg's book. It appears what Whoopi's book is one of the better ones. It's straightforward, but her message is delivered with kindness and a bit of humor.

I can't speak for other cultures, but I think in America, we are quickly becoming a rude society. And I'm talking about the adults first and foremost.

Years ago, when my boys were small, I bought the book Miss Manners' Guide to Raising Perfect Children. I knew the book wasn't going to help me raise perfect children. Judith Martin, "Miss Manners," knew we couldn't raise perfect children. But the book, written to the "Gentle Reader," gave me lots of giggles. It also helped me to understand a few things:

1. How to teach manners to children in a kind way

2. Children are no more perfect than adults

3. We adults need to remember that good parenting requires a sense of humor

Ian Lidster said...

Of course children are rude. That's one of the virtues of being an infant. You can sleep, eat and poop wherever and whenever you choose.
Kinda nice we grow out of it, though.
Too funny.


Deb S. said...

Ian: You should see the big smile on my face. You are so cool...and funny. :-)

Alina said...

Deb, I am sure it was trying to be funny. Still, some people take these aspects literally. And yes, to my mind, children are simply adorable creatures. Though they cry at night, are moody and take long our of your time at young age. So the association with a strong word like "rude" contradicts my image I guess :)

Deb S. said...

Alina: Of course, you are right. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have have a darling little baby to hug! :-)