I shouldn’t have been taken by surprise, but I was. The little toddler, aged two, (coming up three, mum said) wanted to have a look at the box she had in the little plastic carrier bag. Her little hands couldn’t juggle between holding onto the handle of the bag and getting into it. “Can I help you?” I asked. When she had examined the pretty box, the little girl replaced it in the bag, which I held open for her. Then she took one handle at a time. When assured the bag was secure in her hand, the toddler looked up at me and said, “Thank you very much“; when I recovered from my momentary surprise, I told her that she was very welcome. Then she happily trotted off.

It was a delightful interaction however, it has left me thinking about my reaction. I have got used to the change in present day manners. It does not mean I am tolerant of it. It does mean though, that the expression of manners is more of a rarity than I had been aware of. Later in the day, I watched an older child accepting a purchase and thank the saleswoman; she spoilt the effect though, by turning to mum, (who had paid for the item) and giving her a hard time…..a case of familiarity breeding contempt.

Where do manners go from this point?



  1. I think that manners are extremely important and like yourself seem to see them less and less often.
    I think one of the reasons for the decline of manners was a rather wilful mixing up of them with deference. They are in my view utterly different. Manners are a way of showing respect to all people regardless of their social standing while deference only shows respect that to those deemed socially superior.
    In some ways manners are based on a rather noble assumption that the people that we meet are normally decent and therfore deserving of our respect.

  2. What a lovely , touching moment and interaction.

    Manners are to do with respect, I agree with timsuzi. Mind you , it is not easy to practice good manners if you don’t know what the rules are. What is considered good manners differs from culture to culture.

    Personally , I think you can go a long way with ‘Please ‘ and ‘Thank you’ ,


  3. Your perceptions are certainly valid. I think though, with the toddler, there has to be a different process at play. She has not yet been contaminated with society’s quirks and strata. She knows that there is a time for ‘please and thank’ you in certain scenarios. There is already a pattern of behaviour taught and learned. It is a very good start to making manners naturally part of her interaction. I do really believe ‘manners maketh man’.

    It was salutary to realise that I have become accepting of a lot less than I was used to, and a lot less than that which I taught sprog.

  4. Thanks for commenting.

    I agree with you Miramaze. Ground rules are all-important as is modelling.

    Differing cultures are interesting. Again, the same rules apply don’t they, in whatever way manners are demonstrated.

    I was touched and impressed with the toddler. I praised her to mum. I noticed granny nearby, proud and smiling broadly. It was one of those times that give you a nice warm feeling.

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