In my inbox, I recently received an email from "Baby Centre", a website I've been subscribed to since before Little Spring was even born. It took me through her size in my womb each week. Then, when she was born, it took me through her approximate development stages etc. I'm still receiving the emails, but now that Little Spring is much older, the emails are a lot broader.
I found the latest post very interesting. It was titled: "Your 2-Year Old: Intro to Manners". It went on to say:
"Now that your child is old enough to notice how grown-ups behave and that actions affect other people, he's ready to learn some manners. Start with the very simplest, "please" and "thank you." Role model without demanding compliance."
I was actually a little baffled by this statement. I never considered that manners were 'age appropriate' considerations. From the moment Little Spring was able to talk, we taught her to say please and thank you (ta). She was even at a point quite a while ago (and still is now), where she will continue to say "ta" until you reply with "you're welcome." (We've had to warn people of this, to ensure they don't get an onslaught of ta's because they didn't know how to be compliant!). Little Spring has also started to pick up saying "you're welcome."
I can't imagine not having taught Little Spring until now, especially with how well she uses her manners. Of course, sometimes we have to prompt her, but she understands the concept and will use manners more often than not. She understands what we mean when we say "where are your manners?" and will promptly use them appropriately.
She's even learned excuse me, which I was quite surprised by! The other day, I was doing some cooking at the stove. Little Spring came in carrying her steps (for the bathroom, to reach the sink), which she brings in to 'help' me in the kitchen. I was obviously in her way, which she had no hesitation in advising me by saying "excuse me" quite clearly! I then had to politely tell her that she couldn't stand in front of the stove because it was dangerous, but I was very proud of her using her manners all the same.
I think the most confusing things for kids is teaching them "please" whenever they ask for something. They learn the concept, but get a bit confused thinking that by using that 'magic' word, they'll get exactly what they ask for no matter what. Unfortunately it's a hard lesson to learn that "please" doesn't actually guarantee a positive response to their request. Please should always be used, but it doesn't always get what you want!
When Little Spring uses please to ask for something I don't want her to have, I make an effort to praise her for using her manners, but try to explain that it was right that she said the word, but it doesn't mean she'll always get what she asks for. Does an almost (in 3 months!) 3-year old get that concept? Poor Little Spring. If she really wants something, she'll then plead with me, with just one word "please?". Over and over, and over again!
Anyway, this post isn't to brag about how wonderful Little Spring is (although we do think she's pretty wonderful!), but to put forward my confusion regarding an appropriate time to start teaching children manners!
Maybe it's just how I was raised, but if you are a parent, when did you teach your children manners and if you aren't a parent, how old would you expect a child to be before they started using manners with you?