Do you long for the days of yes ma’am and thank you sir?
Simple courtesy isn’t a thing of the past. Sure, we’ve all had days where it feels like it must be something from a bygone era, but that doesn’t prevent most people from being polite and courteous to those around us. We recognize the importance of courtesy because, for most of us, it’s something our parents instilled in us while we were young.
But for foster kids, that simply might not be the case. So this September teach the children in your care the importance of manners and courtesy as part of National Courtesy Month.
National Courtesy Month – Didn’t your mother teach you better than that?
The answer in a lot of foster kids’ cases is no, they did not. Some of these children come from homes where their basic needs for food, care and love were neglected. In those instances, simple manners and etiquette were most likely neglected as well. That means it’s up to you to teach them the lessons your mom taught you.
National Courtesy Month – Please and thank you
It’s the easiest thing to do, to preface a request with please and always offer gratitude with a thank you. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s done nearly enough. It’s important to instill in children in your care the need to say please and thank you. It’s not only polite; it’s a vital skill that’ll serve them well throughout their lives. When children apply to many FAFS programs, they’re required to write a thank you letter if they receive what they requested. It’s a skill to develop early because as children grow into adults, these types of letters become more common, such as when receiving a private scholarship for college.
National Courtesy Month – Holding the door or giving up a seat
We’ve all seen it: a crowded bus, every seat taken, while an elderly woman stands looking around for a place to sit. Teach children in your care to be that young gentleman or woman who stands up and offers her a seat. Beyond being the right thing to do, this act of courtesy is contagious; it’s an act that inspires others to do the same. The same holds true for holding a door open for a person. Small acts of kindness are their own reward, and teaching children that early will often help produce courteous adults.
National Courtesy Month – New technology, new ways of being rude
Smartphones have made lives easier, giving anyone using them access to anything at a touch of the finger. But they’ve also created a whole new brand of rude behavior. Whether it’s talking on the phone at the table, or simply perusing Facebook and Twitter while someone is attempting to talk, smartphones have become something needing an etiquette guide. As a foster parent, it’s important to set up rules regarding technology use, whether it’s a smartphone, iPad or another tablet. No one likes talking to someone while they’re looking down at a screen, so it’s vital to teach children the importance of eye-contact and putting down the phone once in a while.
Becoming a courteous adult is a lifelong process. It’s based on forming the correct habits and repeating them daily. With National Courtesy Month, take the opportunity to form those important habits with children in your care, especially if their biological parents didn’t.
A little courtesy goes a long way.
Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.