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Teaching manners to pre-teens

(13 Posts)
mellymell Mon 13-Jun-16 10:21:36

Hi all

I have two sons DS8 and DS9. They are lively and bright, go to a lovely school and on the whole are pretty happy. However, when having to attend family or friends events, there can be real attitude: they turn into creatures from the deep, show no interest in others, can be rude by dismissing what people (who definitely know better) say, in general show off.

There was such an example yesterday when we were visiting an elderly aunt and their behaviour was horrible, it was arrogant and dismissive to people who were trying to engage and talk to them. I was furious and embarrassed. On the drive home last night, they had a 45 rollocking from both DH and me to explain why we were seriously unhappy with their behaviour, not good enough, 'very disappointed' etc and they went to bed early with no TV.

Is this a 'boys will be boys' thing or an attention grabbing thing (both DH and I work full time)? There is also an element of shyness underneath some of it. Is this a phase they go through before they stop speaking to us during adolescence? Or do I pack them off to the nearest boarding school to be taught some manners.

I wouldn't say I'm at my wits end - more like, I'm interested in what tactics people have used to teach their kids how to show an interest when in more adult type situations, even if they're not. We can threaten them to remove computer/TV time etc, but I wondered whether there was a more constructive way e.g. more regular visits to elderly aunts etc to teach the lesson.


VioletBam Mon 13-Jun-16 11:05:25

Nothing to do with gender. Everything to do with them needing constant reminders.

Constant reminders are wearing but work. Did you pull them up during their behaviour or only after?

Whathaveilost Mon 13-Jun-16 11:34:16

Clearly this is my opinion and know doubt posters will disagree but I have two teenage lads, well one is 16 and the other is older and I have never been embarrassed since they were tiny about their behavior on events. I have been mad at their attitude at home sometimes but they always behaved in public and I could take them anywhere.

This behavior should have been curbed years ago. I remember issuing consequences at toddler group when my eldest behaved badly. It was an age appropriate sanction and I didn't back down no matter how bad the tantrum was that followed.

I know yours are older but I'm just running through in my head how I tought them.
I wouldn't let them run around in restaurants. They had to wait there turn to speak and were treated respectfully and as if they were important but no more important than anyone else in the room. What I am meaning by that is that I have seen children being ignored by adults and able to please themselves and parents not care what they do and I have also seen children been treated as some sort of god where they are so adored it is at the expense of the host or other adults trying to speak. Balance is important.
They were quietly taken to one side and told by either me or their dad that their behaviour wouldn't be tolerated at the first sign of any disrespect
On the way to events we would talk about who would be there and remind them about their behaviour. After a short while they didn't need the reminder, we would talk about who was going, what the family was up to .

A 45 min rant after the behavior is mad. They would have switched off and just heard noise that they weren't interested in hearing. If you have allowed this behavior before and suddenly you start ranting and sending them to bed early they are going to be confused, it's like you have given mixed messages out. You need to be consistent with your behavior as well.

Your boys are too old to be rude and dismissive to people. No wonder you are furious.

If I were you (I hate that phrase but seeing that you have asked) I would start now with telling them of the expectation you have, let them know the consequences if they are rude. Suggest things to talk about eg aunty so and so has been on holiday, why don't you ask her what it was like.

Mine were made to look at people in the eye, smile, speak clearly, offer help etc from the age of 6 or 7.

I know I've rambled a bit here and I am only speaking about what has worked for me. As I said, others may disagree but by acting on bad attitude early on and nipping it in the bud makes life easier for everyone.It can't have been a pleasant experience for your aunty either.

mellymell Mon 13-Jun-16 13:11:52

Thanks for the comments so far.

Just to clarify, we have always spoken to them straight if they haven't behaved as expected, and praised when they have done well. And on the scale of 1-10 on strictness, I'd say we are near the 'Victorian' camp.

However, I agree a rollocking for 45 minutes probably isn't going to be particularly useful, but DH was so furious, he would finish his rant, then 5 minutes later, would start up again!

Saying all this, we probably need to give them more guidance on how to manage the 'small talk' aspect - it is a skill that needs to be learnt. And, more visiting of aged relatives is needed.

MrsJayy Mon 13-Jun-16 13:24:05

Yeah the 45 minute rant proably was too much but you are probably sick of them showing you up you need to nip this in the bud . How are they at home do tgey monopolise you like mummy look at me type behaviour? If they are rude when out tell them off there and then say auntie is asking you a question waiting to get them in the car to rant ispointless ime

Kariana Mon 13-Jun-16 18:55:35

How did you react when they were rude? I mean as soon as they said/did something rude? Did you pull them up immediately? It can be embarrassing to draw attention to it but I think correction at the time it's happening would be best.

sunnydayinmay Mon 13-Jun-16 18:57:46

I've just gone back to a rewards system with ds2 (aged 9). One point when I see him do something super polite (talk nicely to a grown up, really focus in a music lesson). Loses a point if he is rude.

stilllovingmysleep Mon 13-Jun-16 19:02:44

It's a very good question, I'm really interested in the thoughts people have as my DS can also be grumpy with adults, talking under his breath etc.

NellyTheElephant Tue 14-Jun-16 19:44:42

You need to be incredibly clear with them as to what you expect from them BEFORE you go to see elderly aunts or other such occasions. It is no good saying something general, such as telling them 'to be on best behaviour' as that will be meaningless to them. You need to spell out exactly what that behaviour should be so that they know what you want. So in the elderly aunt situation you might say:

1. Please sit down and speak to aunty.
2. Ask her questions and listen to her answers.
3. Tell her about your life and what you enjoy doing.
4. Remember that we are in her house and she would prefer it if you don't shout or run around.
5. You are not under any circumstances to fight with each other
etc etc

After the event you can then run through with them the things they did correctly and which you are pleased about and the things they did failed to do and need to work on next time.

During the visit it is better to correct and control any bad behaviour on the spot rather than to let it continue and get angry with them later.

Kiwiinkits Tue 14-Jun-16 23:35:53

YY what Nelly said.

I don't have a 9 year old though so I don't know. Our neighbour's boy is 9 and can be terribly rude in the same way. He's a nice kid but doesn't seem to know how he comes across!

pearlylum Sat 18-Jun-16 06:27:46

OP I am not sure what you mean by "Victorian" strictness, but it clearly hasn't worked. Your boys have failed to learn respect.
I agree with whathaveilost, behaviour has to be modified early, to be most sucessful.
Like whathaveilost my children are nearly adult and i have never been embarrrassed by their public behaviour.

Children can't be punished into good behaviour, we need to provide good models as they grow, be polite and respectful towards our children and they will learn to behave that way too.
Also emphasising the positive, a little bit of praise for good behaviour is worth ten times the scolding for bad behaviour.

fuckincuntbuggerinarse Sat 18-Jun-16 06:35:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

strawberrybubblegum Sat 18-Jun-16 19:54:29

Wow, this is incredibly useful advice - especially the detail that whathaveilost and nelly give.

I was never given the kind of detailed guidance you describe giving your children (probably because my mother wasn't either) and even now as an adult I'm aware I often miss stuff or just get it wrong.

I desperately want to teach my DD better social and communication skills than I have myself, but find it hard. I'm in awe when I see friends teach these things so naturally.

My DD is 3 - so a bit younger than this. What would you expect from a 3 year old: ie what would you insist on and what would you let slide? And are there any specific things you would explain to them before a family occasion?

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