Setting the example of courtesy in the home

BLS gift of character headerHave you noticed how individuals tone and inflections of voice change when they are in the presence of a person that they respect or are in awe of for reason of their power or position?  Yet those same individuals who can be so deferential , can also be harsh and discourteous to those that they feel more powerful than, or greater than in some manner.  This can be evident in the home.

Courtesy can easily be lost with the perception of power or feeling greater than another person.  If power does not get us, then some lose their ability to be courteous when they feel wronged or disrespected.   How impressed are we when we meet an individual who has fame, power, and notoriety and still maintains a spirit of courtesy?

I have known individuals who were well known and respected in their field and yet they took the time to remember the name of others and  would speak to them as an equal – no matter how young or what their position in life was.  Their courteous nature was an example to follow.

For some being courteous comes very naturally and others need to be reminded from time to time.  Practice courtesy at home with your children in little and big ways.  Being sure that as a parent we use the common words of please and thank you with the children and our partners.  Being willing to say that we are sorry when we hurt another person and taking responsibility for the action is a good example for everyone watching us and our practice for the outside world.

Our children learn from us, how we treat each other, them and even how we treat/talk about our parents – no matter their age.   Children learn by observing how we adults deal with, talk about and feel about employers or employees, teachers and government officials.  Our courtesy balanced with assertiveness, tact and friendliness will set an example for our children.

Balanced Life Skills is bringing out the best in our children and ourselves. 

Does bias get in the way of courtesy?

BLS gift of character headerRecently I saw a question raised that asked, when we meet new people if we are able to show courtesy and understanding or are those virtues compromised due to prejudice and biases?  Are we able to keep an open mind and see people for who they are?

For many the quick answer is an emphatic I AM OPEN-MINDED.  I AM NOT BIASED.  While the idea of no bias is a worthy goal – if we reflect deeply on ourselves, we most likely see beliefs/opinions come up that we assign to ‘groups’ of people.  It is these beliefs/opinions that close our mind to seeing people as they really are.  These same beliefs/opinions are the ones that shape how we respond to them;  including our level of respect, kindness or courtesy.

Belief/Opinions are formed and passed on by others whom are similar to ourselves or from individuals we have been hanging out with.  An interesting quote that really raised my awareness about this kind of thinking:

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge.  It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world.  It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.”   Bill Bullard – Educator

The easiest way of really knowing someone and overcoming our bias and judgment is by overcoming our own fear and simply getting to know them.  We can get to know them by sharing time in reaching common goals, working with a variety of individuals to complete a service project or deep listening to their story.  As we listen to their story we will see their individuality and similarities;  their joys and fears, desires and hopes are ours.

Put in the most simple terms: All people want to be safe, healthy, successful and happy; both for ourselves and our children.

What we value as humans is the same, though sometimes expressed in different manners.  Seeing how others value life will help us to appreciate everyone that we meet and keep life very interesting.

Courtesy requires manners for all generations

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Polite words, good manners – yes courtesy – are both appreciated and remembered by others.  Recently I was told a story of a young man, whom at the age of 18 was asked to provide a skill for another person who was older than them.  The skill and the completed job was appreciated, but it was the “good manners” that stuck in the mind and heart of the recipient of the deed.

handshakeIn a world where what is acceptable as manners seems to be changing, everyone finds the feeling of dignity and respect never goes out of style.  It may be as simple as the proper handshake, genuine smile or the eye contact to make the other person feel that, at that moment they are important to you.
It may be that we need to meet the other person where they are.  Imagine being in another country – isn’t it best to know what they consider to be respectful?  The same is true with the differences in generations here in our country.  While one generation may not expect a younger person to stand when an older person comes into the room, wouldn’t it be courteous if we knew that was seen as good manners for another generation, and that we are willing to demonstrate that symbol of respect.

While some may not remember what it is that they felt well about you, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was because of the courtesy you showed in your interactions with them.

Helping children be more courteous in the family

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CourtesyThere are many people who believe that common courtesy is on the decline and they point to the use of technology and the decrease in face to face interactions among young people as the cause.  Courtesy is about being respectful and considerate of others feelings, needs and rights.

In family life when we get up in the morning we show courtesy by being pleasant.  If we need help and want the attention of another person we speak to them when we can see them – not hollering from one room to another.  If they are on the phone we are patient and wait for them to complete their call.  At the dinner table we use our manners of asking and not reaching.  We use polite words when asking and do not demand actions from others to help us.

Why would a child or an adult do otherwise in the family setting?  It could be a simple case of personal pride.  A belief that they are more important and their needs must be served prior to others.   When we believe that our feelings, needs or rights are more important than that of others, we begin to demand and we lose the gift of courtesy. We expect to see that from a young child, but we eventually want to see them progress in their respect for others.

Acting with courtesy shows that we respect and value others.  We recognize that our words and actions affect others.  What can you do to encourage courtesy from your children?  

  • Set the example.
  • Set expectations for family members  words and actions. (they have to be followed by everyone)
  • Make Courtesy the Gift of Character you choose to practice this week.
  • Use the Five Practices to grow this gift.

Learn to use the Gifts of Character in your family – Parenting: One on One is one way to learn the 5 Practices that parents can use to guide, counsel, and educate their children in creating a culture of peace in the family.

The result is children who grow up safe, healthy, successful and happy.

Gifts of Character: Courtesy – The Definition

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Each month we will discuss one gift of character with all of our students. This month the word is Courtesy.  This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Courtesy means: Polite words, kind ways!

Older students: Courtesy means:  Showing respect, kindness and consideration for others.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact we are an education center, working with students on physical self defense skills, while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts.  We believe every child has 52 gifts  in them already.  They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life.  Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers and students to reach that goal.

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work,  TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.

Life Skills: Courtesy – The Definition

Teaching character and life skills to students


Each month we define and discuss a word of character development and life skill with all of our students.

This month the word is Courtesy and will be defined this way.

Young students: Courtesy means, “I am thoughtful and kind to others.”

Older students: Courtesy means:  Showing respect, kindness and consideration to others

Here are the worksheets for our students:

Courtesy Project Tiger Tots

Courtesy Project 5-6 Year Olds

Courtesy Project 7-12 year old’s

Courtesy Project Teens and Adults

If you would like to see how we will talk about COURTESY with our students please follow our discussions here during the month of JUNE or come in and TRY A CLASS.