One definition of manners I found says: “A person’s outward bearing; way of speaking to and treating others”.
“Back in the day”, teaching manners and etiquette seemed an essential part of raising children. I know in my house, my siblings and I were given a book of etiquette at a very young age, and told to study it, and try and apply the principles to our lives. We were taught everything from laying the table correctly, to chewing with our mouths closed. From saying please and thank you, to looking people in the eye and smiling when we passed them on the street.
Are we teaching our children everything they will need to know about manners, etiquette and courtesy? Are we assuming that they should already know instinctively what to do in every situation? When we take them to visit healthcare facilities, are they prepared to greet the resident/patient in such a way that is appropriate? As a very young child, I joined my church family once a month singing in one of the local nursing homes with the residents. We “adopted a grandparent”, and grew up feeling very comfortable with the elderly, and with the environment of healthcare facilities. Children today are just as welcomed by the staff and residents as they were back then. It is, in my opinion, very important to teach children the value of being in elderly people’s lives; for that matter, in all kinds of people’s lives that may need something from us. It teaches us to be of service to individuals, and to our communities. The knowledge, the unconditional acceptance, the ability to communicate and show real interest in what the children have to say… are some of the reasons why I believe that exposing our children to elderly people on a regular basis helps form them into more caring and attentive adults. What better place to visit, and share their lives with elderly folk, than at a facility where people are always happy to have visitors, and look forward every day to see who is coming into their home.
Some examples of manners children and all of us can utilize when visiting:
- Greeting each person with a smile, answer questions politely, and offer compliments
- Carry on conversations that include all who are present- allow all to speak
- Talk about things that are upbeat and lively, positive and happy
- Respect other’s time and schedule
- Present appropriate card/gift with person you are visiting, remembering that elderly love getting homemade cards, etc., especially from children
- Remember that “I’m good” doesn’t replace “no thank you” when offered something, and please and thank you are welcomed
Information provided by Valerie McDaniel, social services coordinator, QHC Winterset North, LLC, 11 E. Lane St., Winterset, (515) 462-1571