Teaching good manners never gets old Teaching good manners never gets old

Teaching good manners never gets old

Trends 1 February, 2017 Cristina Calle


Children today grow up with greater freedom. While this is necessary, teaching children how to live together politely should not be forgotten.

Medical Advisor
Carolina Patiño, Psychologist

The times are long gone of when parents raised children by a strict book of rules where making a mistake was unheard of. With some modern parents that are very busy and often delegate the upbringing of their children to grandparents, aunts and uncles or to childcare professionals, children have grown up in less-rigid environments, where their opinions, preferences and what they want also matter  as they should.

But it turns out that this is not always good. We often hear couples criticizing the behavior of other children at the grocery store, mall or at a restaurant. Being a child does not justify everything. Good manners and being polite have not gone out of style and sometimes it is good when someone says, “What good manners! What a well-behaved child.”

While it is no longer popular, the advice of the Venezuelan politician, musician, educator and writer Manuel Antonio Carreño (1813-1874) in this book that was fundamental to the upbringing of our grandparents, El manual de Carreño (Carreño’s handbook), is not all outdated; this booklet also includes “Good manners for getting along with society.”
For psychologist Carolina Patiño, “It isn’t necessary to follow our grandparent’s footsteps, as this advice now seems obsolete and outdated, but it is becoming more common to see youth that don’t have a sense of respect or of how to live with others, mostly because we want to please them with everything. That’s fine, but we must teach them how to behave around others.”

Patiño believes, for example, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to give our children guidance at school because teaching good manners is no longer a collaborate effort from home, mostly because parents are becoming increasingly busy. “There is also the issue of etiquette. We often don’t teach children how to behave at a lunch gathering or at a meeting that requires order and silence.”

Carreño’s pieces of advice include some that come from the distant past where kitchens were lit by candles, not lightbulbs. Others continue to apply to the dinner table, “[Do not] suck or chew on a lock of hair, bite your nails or cuticles, sit with your legs spread open or with your legs crossed or twisted in a strange way, chew gum while you are talking or with your mouth open, smoke in public or without asking the permission of others as the smell of cigarette smoke can offend someone or make them uncomfortable, make others feel guilty or uncomfortable as they eat a delicious dessert just because you must avoid it because of a specific diet, scratch or pick at your face…”

Carreño’s list is long and while few of us have read his book, we maintain hundreds of these behaviors that this writer suggested for his time in our daily lives. When you look at it closely, his advice is not so bad when it comes time to raising our new generations. “Who wouldn’t agree that it is good to learn to eat with your mouth closed or to not trim your nails in the middle of a dinner? We all would, but sometimes we forget to pass these principles, for lack of a better word, onto our children,” Patiño says.

Virtual etiquette

Good manners in the real world can be reapplied to the digital world. Children and youth are participating even more in this world and it is the responsibility of parents to guide them through the healthy, safe and productive use of this new technology. Red PaPaz offer 10 behaviors for parents to consider in guiding their children to participate in the digital world:

  • Use information and communication technologies (ICTs) respecting others and yourself.
  • Exercise the rights of others to freedom and respect.
  • Use your identity in a safe way.
  • Protect and be responsible with your personal integrity and safety and with that of others.
  • Use ICTs to freely develop your personality and autonomy, recognizing the beliefs and opinions of others.
  • Use ICTs to improve your quality of life.
  • Be aware that minors require special attention and support in using ICTs.
  • Avoid using ICTs to promote, in any way, the exploitation of minors or any other behavior that may threat their human rights.
  • Do not infringe upon copyright laws