Thursday, February 23, 2012

are manners necessary or just another expectation

For many years I struggled not with the fact that my son struggled to speak but that when asked he would not be able to answer them with please and thank you. It sounds so simple but I distinctly remember the moments of  awkward waiting for my son and for me also. Knowing that he most likely won't be able to respond even with family. So I come across this article on Smart Talkers Blog and honestly I still feel like crying. Is it beneficial to put pressure on people to say the things we are meant to say even if it makes the person feel horrible, awkward and anxious and make them feel different from others. 

To be honest I didn't know my son had Selective Mutism at the time but I had this one standard when my children ask for things they do not have to say please, but they need to ask nicely. No bad attitude, whining, complaining or tantrums. Slowly but surely I have been teaching them small things like signing please. The question is why do I need to teach my children this, is it that bad of a sin to have a child that doesn't say please. When I read this article and it totally made sense, we want our children to speak normally so we need to teach them functional language not disjointed language. 

This also brings me to my next bug bear expecting children to speak to older adults, to strangers, to family to hug people they don't know and so on. Why force them to speak to people is that fair? Who are we really doing this for, our children or really to show off? I am surprised at the amount of information about how we are to teach our children not to talk to strangers but an adult comes up and they are EXPECTED to speak to them and then the parent is judged if they don't is that fair not at all. 

Is it rude not to speak to someone maybe? Is it rude for a child not to speak to someone it really depends on the reason. I now take a different approach knowing my kids I want them to be free to talk if they want to, not to be rude and ignore people but I will not put pressure and expectations on them what for? does it really make my child a better well behaved child am I a better parent?

Having a son who has struggled with speech for most of his life I can see this article making totally sense, is there a reason why young children get stuck with small phrases? could it be the manners we are imposing? Don't get me wrong if the child is able, the child should learn and be trained to be polite and respectful, but I won't expect them to perform for others and for strangers. 

But you can imagine what phrases get practised a lot in our house, can I have a ... please and so on. But we have had to work on that. My eldest took six months to learn a whole sentence with please on the end. It definitely felt good when he got it! Now I know this is a little controversial but hear me out.. just have a think about why we do what we do is it for us or them do we value what others think of our parenting skills too highly? Are our children the highest priority that is up for you to figure out.