Dear Barb – Young People and Manners

Dear Barb:

I guess what I have to say is more or less an observation. I have just started teaching grade seven and it seems to me young people today don’t have basic manners. They don’t seem to know how to treat each other with respect, nor do they treat adults with respect. Is it just me or are there others out there who feel the same way? Maybe you could comment on this topic in your column. Looking forward to your response.

Glenn – Cobourg

Hi Glenn. I believe many people share your sentiments and being a teacher you are experiencing this first-hand.

Today’s parents seem to be so busy with work, career and children’s activities that perhaps they have lost sight of the necessity of teaching children basic manners. It’s a well-known fact that the child or adult with good manners will go further in life than those who do not practice good etiquette.

Imagine you are an employer interviewing two equally qualified candidates. One candidate greets you with a firm handshake, a wide smile and a verbal greeting. The other person sits down, doesn’t shake your hand, and only nods his head to greet you. How difficult would your decision be in choosing who gets the job?

As a teacher, there are things you can do to help the students in your classroom to become better equipped to face the world. You could spend a few minutes each day discussing and encouraging polite behaviour. Make it an interactive session, where students are asked to give examples of good manners. Perhaps try acting out scenarios (role playing) among the students, so they will be able to put this behaviour into practice.

Be sure to comment when you witness students exhibiting good manners. This will encourage them to continue. Another area where manners are important is in sports. Good sportsmanship seems to be a thing of the past for a lot of today’s youth. Again as a teacher, you can do something to change this, at least for your students. When your students are involved in sports and competitive games, remind them to shake hands with the opposing team at the end of each game. Reaffirm that they had fun and did a good job. This will promote good sportsmanship.

Suggest your students practice this behaviour in their own homes. Have them report back to you the reactions from parents or other family members. Perhaps at the end of the year you may receive some positive feedback from parents who notice the change in their child’s behaviour.

You brought up a good topic Glenn. Maybe some readers would like to write in with their comments or suggestions on this issue.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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