How to be Mannerly with Kids

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I often discuss generic manners topics or the manners situations of others, but I had something interesting happened to me this last weekend. I thought it might be entertaining and practical for me to break down how I approached the situation for better or worse.

The weather had warmed considerably, and I thought it was high time I got outside and cleaned the leaves out of my yard. However, when I opened my front door what I encountered was completely unexpected. 

How to be Mannerly in Unexpected Situations

As I was saying, I was headed out for a leisurely time of leaf raking. My four-year-old had visions of plunging himself into giant leaf piles. What we found were seven neighborhood boys trying in vain to play football in our front yard, which just happens to be fairly small with a tree in a large brick planter.

I was surprised but kept my cool. After all, kids are frequently looking for a reason to toilet paper someone's home. Why give them a reason? I said, "Hey, guys. I'm sorry to tell you that I've got to do some yard work, so you won't be able to play football in my yard." It's perfectly within the rules to bluntly explain the situation when asking people to do something—like move off your lawn. It's my yard. I have work to do. You can't be here because you'll be in the way. I wasn't rude– just stating the facts.

There was obvious dismay so I jokingly added, "I can't pay you, but you are more than welcome to help us rake up the leaves." Imagine my own dismay when four of the boys decided to stay and help! I suddenly became the manager of five kids, four of which I had never even seen before!

When we as adults treat children with respect and kindness, they take little notes on how they want to be when they grow up.

How to be Mannerly with Kids

I realized my job would now probably take twice as long to accomplish, however I saw this as an opportunity to mentor the neighborhood kids and show my own that new friends and spontaneity are welcome. It would have been just as easy to laugh it off and send the kids on their way, but it's not very often that these kinds of things happen. When we as adults treat children with respect and kindness, even kids we don't know, they take little notes on how they want to be when they grow up. We should take every opportunity to give them good notes.