By Rachel Hoeing

My husband and I have always tried our best to teach our children to be respectful and use good manners. I am almost too mannerly at times and find myself saying please and thank you even when it is not necessary, but I have always felt that too much is better than none at all in the manners department.

I wrote a blog recently about how to model compassion and kindness for your children. You can read it here. I think these things go hand-in-hand with good manners. We have worked on these things for years, but my kids never quite caught on to the whole “respect”, “manners”, “kindness” thing, but now, at ages 9 and 11, they are finally beginning to see the benefits of using your manners and treating others the way you would like to be treated.

A couple weeks ago my son and I went out to lunch. When he was given his food, he said “thank you” as usual. A few moments later the waiter came back with a brownie. “Do you mind if I give this to your son?” he asked. “We have kids his age in here all the time and it is very rare that one looks me in the eye and says thank you.” My son’s eyes lit up as he accepted the brownie, and of course said thank you again!

Another rewarding experience was when a new little girl joined a group that my daughter was involved with. Evidently the new little girl was extremely shy and was very apprehensive when coming to the group. My daughter went out of her way to make this child feel included and treat her kindly. A few days later we received a note at our door along with a homemade bracelet. It was from the little girl and she was thanking my daughter for her kindness. The best part was that even though the gift was nice, it was the words in the note that seemed to make my daughter smile most.

Recently, my son decided to use some money he had saved up to purchase an electronic gaming system at the store. He spent forever looking up and down the aisles and finally decided on a system that cost $69.99. I asked him again and again if he was sure that he wanted to spend all his money on that item. He had about $80 total saved up. He was so excited and was sure that this was the item he wanted. When we got to the checkout counter, he slowly started to pull all the dollar bills and coins out of his wallet. The cashier then announced, “Your total is $94.00. My son looked at me with his eyes and mouth wide open and a confused look on his face. It was obvious to the cashier that my son did not have enough money.  “Excuse me sir,” he said, “The sign under the game said it was $69.99. Would you mind checking that for me?” The cashier asked my son to walk him back to the spot where we found the game. Sure enough, the sign for $69.99 was right under the game. “You know what?” said the cashier. “Since you were so polite about it, I am happy to honor what the sign says.”

Wow. Three very cool experiences that happened just within a few weeks of each other that sparked an amazing conversation between my children and me. We talked about how their acts made others feel and how they would like to be treated the same way by others. We discussed how the gifts they received were just bonuses on top of the good feelings that were felt between all parties involved. We discussed how people often seem too rushed to stop and smile at others or show kindness. We all agreed that we would continue to work on all of these things.

Next on the list we’ve got to work on using these manners within your own family (sibling fighting is out of control!) and I think table manners can use some work, too!  But day by day, our family is doing our best to make others feel good. I hope these stories today will inspire you to have some conversations with your children as well. Please share your thoughts on teaching respect, manners and treating others with kindness below!