Manners & Misdemeanours

July 6, 2011 at 6:08 am 4 comments

I’ve shamelessly copied the title for this post from Scientiaincognita’s theme for the week.  They have covered the historical side of manners as a social construct (all too often ignored), so I can leave that side of things alone.  I can however offer first hand observations of the acquisition of manners.

Monkey is two.  He was a late ‘waver’, and will still often only give the most perfunctory of hand flicks.  He is starting to talk now, but hasn’t got many words yet.  I’m pro-baby-signing, so he can communicate things to us that he can’t yet say.  We’ve observed that the first ‘mannersy’ thing he copied was a sign.  When crossing at the lights, he started holding his hand up at the cars as if to thank them for letting us cross.  He sometimes does the same thing in the car.

We’ve never ‘pushed’ manners on him, we prefer to let things develop at their own pace, figuring he’ll get there in his own time.  We try to present him with something like a model of good behaviour, saying please and thankyou to him when appropriate.  He’s starting to say something like ‘please’, mostly when we don’t think he should have something, or when we are slow gettng whatever it is that he wants.  It is a bit unfortunate, really, as it probably seems to him that manners don’t work.

‘Misdemeanours’ is best left for another time…


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. scientiaincognita  |  July 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    When is it right to learn manners? Who determines what they are and why?

  • 2. thecreativetoe  |  July 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Manners are essentially ‘Social Oil’, so what consitutes good manners will change with time and situation (as per the original scientiaincognita post). Because they are a social construct, we don’t expect babies to be well-mannered. We are pleased when children are well-mannered, and displeased when adults are ill-mannered. I don’t think there is a specific time when manners ought to be learned – before we start bemoaning their lack I suppose. Which comes first, I wonder, manners or misdemeanours?

  • 3. scientiaincognita  |  July 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    That would depend upon the social constructs I suppose. If they don’t exist then neither do the manner or the misdemeanour.

  • 4. thecreativetoe  |  July 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    So in an anarchic situation, we’d not have to worry about minding our p’s and q’s 🙂


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