Why Teaching Your Child Manners is A Good Idea

Why  teaching your child manners is a good idea in this world seems like a rhetorical question.  What does it matter if your children have manners or not?  Your child with autism can barely talk or make eye contact so why does it matter if he is polite and well mannered? I challenge you to think of it in a different light.  Could good manners and politeness help your child in a situation? Would it possibly give your special needs child an advantage in a situation?


It's important to teach your child manners regardless of their diagnosis



People respond to nice people.  They respond to smiling people, people who make them feel good and people who who come across as caring.  It’s a God given fact that you will get better results if you stay calm as well as polite. Considering our children are already at a disadvantage in social settings, we need to set up them up for success as much as possible.  What if teaching them a few hard and fast social niceties helped them be successful more often than not?  Wouldn’t you want that for your child?



Why teaching your child manners is a good idea



Early on in Logan’s life, I discovered that, here in the South,  adults want to hear “Yes ma’am” or “Yes Sir” after addressing  a child.  It’s an expected response.  No questions asked.  Children who don’t do this are considered rude and poorly behaved.  By teaching Logan to respond to his name with those salutations meant that most people were far more patient with him from the beginning.  Adults , especially old elderly people, thought him to be a nice kid before he even opened his mouth. Is this a fair assessment of him given that little bit of information?  No.   How Logan answers should be neither here nor there.  I’ve had children answer me with that salutation who are complete buttheads.  But in this society ,he is considered proper and well mannered.  If that makes people cut him slack for all the other weird stuff he does then so be it. 



Why teaching your children manners is a good idea




Another point is that parents want their kids socializing with other kids who are well mannered.  I have seen this first hand in interactions involving both Logan and Madison.  Logan learned all the manner rules and sticks to them. It’s easy for him because he ‘s a creature of habit. He likes to think in black and white.  That’s part of his autism.  Madison on the other hand can see the hypocrisy sometimes of being well mannered.  She doesn’t partake in some people’s tom foolery .  Therefore , in some circles, she has been labeled a troublemaker.  The same parents who have no problem with their children socializing with Logan are not as welcoming to Madison.  Despite all his social inadequacies, they want their children hanging out with the perceived “well mannered ” one .



Why Teaching your child manners is a good idea



Take heart that neither Logan nor Madison learned these manners overnight.  It is with consistent prodding and modeling that we have ingrained them into their young minds.  It’s not easy by any stretch but certainly worthwhile. Just like any other life lesson we have to teach them , it takes consistency and time.  Lots and lots of time.  



Teaching your child manners



I see how this can be used against Logan as well.  We teach him to be kind with please and thank yous, to share his toys, to open doors for females and all those other things. People may see him as weak therefore making him easy prey.  In this situation, I have taught him to err on the side of grace. Yes, people are going to take advantage of him.They are going to do this regardless of whether it’s because he’s well mannered or because he has autism.  We can’t live our lives based on that fear.  We can live our lives by teaching him things to make his life easier.  If teaching him manners does that then so be it. 


Logan’s 10 rules of manners:

  1. Always answer Yes Ma’am or Yes Sir when addressed by an adult

  2. Always say please and thank you

  3. Open doors for females regardless of their age

  4. Don’t talk with food in your mouth

  5. Wait until everyone has been served to eat. 

  6. No elbows on the table.

  7. Push your chair in and clear your setting after eating

  8. Say excuse me when making noises with your body , leaving the table, or trying to get past someone

  9. Don’t interrupt without saying Pardon me but try not to interrupt

  10. Don’t play on your phone when other people are present