Thursday Apr 18

Navigating 'Island' Parenting: Manners the Pathway to Success


By Mutryce A. Williams

Navigating "Island" Parenting is a submission of insights, quotes, tips and parenting advice that I have gathered over the years as a source of inspiration and as tools to deal with the daily challenges of parenting. This week’s issue: Manners the Pathway to Success – Literary Lessons in Manners. The hope is that this submission would cause you to reflect on your parenting skills and also make the journey of parenting a bit easier or brighter.

Manners the Pathway to Success

A few days ago I listened as a group of frantic parents discussed the advantages of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) educational program. Prior to STEAM, the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program was viewed as the pathway to success for children. The parents were discussing the inclusion of the fifth component, Art. They appeared perturbed. One man said he felt cheated and robbed. He questioned, “Why was the public only now being told that there was a new component to this formula for success? How long have the conspirators known about the importance of this A or Art component?”

It be may argued that the reactions were justified. After all, these parents thought that they were doing everything in their power to set their children on the pathway to success. They had enrolled them in STEM summer camps, math enrichment and coding classes. The joined the local Lego Clubs. They had researched and invested in cutting edge technology and gadgets. They had lobbied with the education department and the schools to ensure that their schools’ STEM programs were on par with others. Now here comes this new revelation which states that another ingredient was required for this recipe of success. No wonder the gentleman felt cheated.

What a headache! How were these unfortunate children ever going to catch up? How were these parents going to incorporate that Art component to ensure that their children would be equipped for all of the bounties that life had to offer, the bounties to be had from getting a head start not in STEM but rather STEAM?

I couldn’t help but smile. I couldn’t help but wonder whether these parents also got all worked up over one very essential ingredient to success, not professional success, but rather success in life. The essential ingredient to which I refer is that ingredient called “manners.” Emily Post describes good manners as a tenant which reflects something from the “inside-an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.” Manners cost absolutely nothing. It is a proven ingredient that would get a child farther in life than any STEM or STEAM science program. Imagine, coupled with these programs, imagine, how far in life a child get!

As parents we can be so meticulous in ensuring future success for our children. We spend hours researching the best practices. We invest our time and monies to ensure that our children get that leg up. Do we however spend time investing in best practices or doing the required research to ensure that our children grow into individuals who are well-mannered? Where does this fall on the list of our parenting priorities? How important are those magic words to you and your family? I mean the ‘please and thank you.’ How important is showing kindness, courtesy or politeness to others?

Ensuring that our children get a head start in life is quite honourable; however we ought to keep this nugget in mind, “Things Money Can’t Buy – Manners, Morals, Respect, Character, Common Sense, Trust, Patience, Class, Integrity and Love.” This should be the bedrock of our parenting philosophy, if you realize, manners tops the list. As parents we should work hard at STEM or STEAM whatever the preference, however we need to also work extra hard at ensuring that our children receive those tenants that money can’t buy. We need to ensure that they have morals, character, respect and manners.
Last week we discussed how books may be utilized to instill the virtue of gratitude, this week I will share with you some of my favourite books for teaching and reinforcing manners. Happy Reading!

Recommended Reading for Children - Books on Manners

Emily’s Everyday Manners by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post illustrated by Steve Bjorkman

365 Manners Kids Should Know Games Activities and Other Fun Ways to Help Children Learn Etiquette by Sheryl Eberly

Mind Your Manners by B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra illustrated by J. Otto Siebold

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Manners Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf

Excuse Me: A Little Book of Manners (Lift the Flap Book) by Karen Katz

Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book by Richard Scarry

My Mouth is a Volcano! by Julia Cook

What if Everybody Did That? By Ellen Javernick

I Can’t Believe You Said That! : My Story about Using My Social Filter… or Not (Best Me I Can Be!) by Julia Cook illustrated by Kelsey De Weerd

Dude That’s Rude: (Get Some Manners) (Laugh and Learn) by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick

Don’t Behave Like You Live in a Cave (Laugh and Learn) by Elizabeth Verdick

Social Graces – Essential Social Manners for Children

As parents we should aspire to raise children who are polite, courteous and kindly considerate of others. Saying, “Yes, Ma’am, No Ma’am, Yes Sir, No Sir, and Please and thank you,” are not antiquated graces. Here is a list of essential social graces for children:

• Be polite and gracious to everyone
• Say please and thank you
• Always be on time
• Smile when greeting others
• Greet people with a hello or how are you
• Shake hands and look people in the eyes when speaking
• Knock, announce yourself and ask permission before entering a room
• Do not interrupt when others are speaking
• Sit properly-practice poise
• Say excuse me when you need someone’s attention
• Say excuse me and sorry when bumping into someone
• Put down electronics when others enter the room
• Open doors for others
• Practice proper table manners
• Never use foul language
• Do not call people names or embarrass others
• Apologize when wrong
• Clean up messes
• Always ask for permission before using or removing items
• Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, don’t pick your nose
• Compliment others and use kind words
• Be respectful of others
• Speak quietly – use inside voice
• Take turns, participate equally
• Carry oneself neatly

Manners – Parental Reminder to the Child

Remember your mood should not dictate your manners. This means that you are always responsible for how you act no matter how you feel. Manners are not optional but essential.

Quotes about Manners

“A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.” Goethe

“Life is short but there is always room for courtesy.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” Clarence Thomas

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners no matter what fork you use.” Emily Post

“Politeness is a sign of dignity not subservience.” Theodore Roosevelt

Recommended Reading for the Parent

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky

Mutryce A. Williams, a native of St Kitts and Nevis is the mother of 6-year-old Daniel and 5-year-old Nicholas. She not only values the many facets of West Indian parenting but also thinks that there is vast room for improvement. A former educator and a child/youth advocate, Mutryce firmly believes that children should not only be seen but heard. She may be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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