Etiquette at Home

Courtesy begins at home

A family develops its own rules for behavior on smaller matters, and usually children of the family are trained in these things from infancy. There are basic rules for behavior that can apply to every family, and if a young child learns these rules and customs well, and apply them at home, the good habits of behavior can continue rather easily when he goes to school and begins visiting in other homes.

Many old and time-honored customs are good to learn and to use because they have been proved and accepted over the generations. Then too, new habits for courtesy and safety must be learned because today people move around more, travel more, and do a greater variety of things each day then was common in the past. This means that young people have to learn to deal with new situations.

In making family life more pleasant and orderly, parents will expect their children to obey certain courtesies in the home. The same basic rules apply when you go to a restaurant, or travel, or visit at friends’ homes.

Most courtesies of daily living are really very simple to learn and to apply. Obedience comes first, when young children are learning good behavior and safety. Kindness and consideration are learned as children get a little older and realize that other people have wants and needs too.

Obey/Respect your father and mother

This is paramount. Your life may depend upon it. A small child must learn to obey a sudden order. A parent might call to him “stop,” to keep him from running into the street when a car is coming, or to keep him from reaching toward a fire or hot stove, or from approaching a strange dog, or, indeed, from any danger that the child does not recognize. Gradually, as the child grows older and feels ready to make his own decisions, his parents’ advice and guidance take place of such direct orders.

Be considerate to your siblings and family.

This is really part of the ancient Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

When people live together, and each person has his own wishes, courteous habits help to prevent quarrelling and unhappiness. If real differences of opinion occur, families should try to solve their problems by talking them over. Often a solution can be reached in calmness. Quarrelling can become a habit. If members of a family try to be courteous, even if they are very angry, they find that through mutual kindness their problems are more easily solved.

Kindness is a wonderful quality in human beings. All the major religions of the world teach about kindness and consideration in the family. The feeling we call “Love” is usually expressed by simply trying to be kind.

Be considerate of others

Most young people, as well as most adults, do not spend much time these days in “formal” situations. It used to be that a “well-brought-up” girl or boy would be taken by his or her mother to call on the mothers friends. Little girls learned to curtsy, and little boys to bow. If they went out to “tea,” it was expected that the children do these things, and to speak and answer only when spoken to. Customs like these have almost disappeared. Such behavior is now considered to be “old fashioned” or “Victorian”

Politeness and friendliness were the reasons why ladies in the old days “called” upon one another and sometimes brought their children along. We might feel sorry for the “good” little boy or girl who had to go,all scrubbed and starched, to call on a lady of his mother’s acquaintance. Probably the child had strict orders to sit quietly and not tease the cat, to accept only one piece of cake and not ask for more! At least, though, the children knew what to do and not what to do, for a formal situation is almost a ritual.

Nowadays, many mothers work and do not have the time or desire to make formal calls or to have visitors in the afternoon in a formal manner. Many other mothers are busy keeping house, doing the marketing, serving on committees, or driving the car to call for children at school and taking to their lessons and ball games.

Mothers today also enjoy calling on their friends when they have the time, and if you go with your mother, though you will not be expected to curtsy or bow, it is still good behavior to answer politely and in a friendly way when you are asked about school, your lessons, or your team or club. Even an informal situation calls for good manners.

In someone else’s home it is best to wait until your hostess suggests that you go outside to play or explore her house. If she warns you about her dog or her newly planted flower bed, it is for your own sake that she is speaking, and she wants to save you from embarrassment and keep you out of trouble. If adults speak sharply to you, it is because they think it is the best way to teach you. Many adults are not patient with young people. Perhaps it will help you if you understand that adults have many things to worry and tire them, and they wish, even though they are fond of you, to keep you from adding to their problems. Instead of arguing with adults, be patient with them. You will learn to understand their behavior better. You will also come to realize that someday you to will have adult problems to solve, and that patience is a great help. You, and the adults around you, are all trying to do the best you can to be considerate and patient.

Quarrelling is unnecessary. Nothing is so “grace less” as a fight. What can be done when each person in the family wants his own way, wants it badly, and each person really has an equal right to his own way? Here love, patience, kindness and humor are important. In such a spirit, most problems big and little, can be solved or at least settled in a reasonable discussion.

When people live together, differences and quarrels often arise. Children as well as adults can display anger. Children often want to hit and slap; very little children are even tempted to bite! Feelings of this kind must be controlled. Violent behavior only makes the problems greater and more difficult to solve.

Be orderly

Hang up your clothing. Make your bed and keep your room as neat as you can. It is such a help to everyone if you pick up toys, books, and games that are not in use. If you need a place to keep your belongings, the grocer will give you a box or carton that you might decorate with paper or paint to make it look attractive to your room.

Be pleasant to guests in the house —

Your home as well as the home of others!

Wipe your shoes before entering the house!

Pets are your responsibility.

Your pet should have attention, food and water regularly. You should help your pet “keep out of trouble” too, by keeping it where it belongs, and, if possible, training it to mind its manners. Of course pet frogs and turtles, fish or insects cannot be trained, but you and your family will enjoy them more if they are kept safely in a special place.

Do not borrow if you can help it.

This is an important rule to remember all your life, for the exchange of possessions leads to misunderstandings. If it is necessary to borrow something, return it as soon as you can. If you borrow money, return the full amount with a cheerful “thank-you.” In fact if you do borrow money, have a plan for paying it back before you accept it. If you borrow clothing, equipment of any kind, or a toy, take good care of it and return clean and undamaged. Thank the lender of course. And take care not to let borrowing become a habit.

In the adult business world, a person borrowing money from a bank or lending firm must sign legal papers promising to return it according to a regular payment plan, and the sum borrowed must be repaid with “interest,” that is, about six to three hundred cents over every dollar borrowed as sort of a fee for the use of the money. Banks and lending firms are very careful that money is lent for a good reason, and that they will not readily lend it to persons who cannot show that they can repay their debts.

Young people can prepare themselves for the business part of life by developing careful habits of planning and of taking care of their possessions.

Respect others’ privacy.

Never interfere with another person’s mail, telephone calls, or personal possessions without his permission. If you take a telephone message for someone, be sure to pass the message on to him promptly and correctly. This is necessary because you might create many worries and problems for people if they do not receive a clear and correct message. In a few years, when you are working, accurate information from telephone calls can be important to the success of your business and your own advancement.

Proper use of the telephone is often vital

The telephone should be used as a way for people to communicate without interference. It is needed in emergencies, in calling the police or the fire department, or for someone who is injured. Friendly calls, too mean a great deal.

Telephones are not for pranks.

Young people are often tempted to play games with the telephone. One should not call strangers and then give silly or frightening messages. The results may be cruel or tragic.

When there are several members of a household,

it is courteous for everyone to make sure is not monopolized so as to prevent other incoming calls.

Place calls carefully.

Speak clearly. Make your calls as short as possible; others may want to use the telephone too. Never shout into the telephone. If you receive a call that has been made to the wrong number, make your number clear to the caller so the mistake will not be repeated. If you are taking a message, thank the caller and let him know that you will deliver the message carefully.

Answering the door.

Do Not Open the door until you know who is calling! Here we find a problem, because we want to be kind and hospitable to guest. Yet in order to help protect our home (and ourselves) it is wise to identify the caller before inviting him in. If the visitor is a guest of your family, invite him inside and invite him to sit down. Then ask to be excused and go and tell the host that company has arrived. It is not proper to shout for the host. If others are present in the room when the guest enters, be sure to introduce him to each person.

If the caller at the door is a salesman, it is better to ask your parents or older brother or sister to speak to him. If you are at home alone when the salesman comes to the door, or if a older person cannot join you, you can politely suggest that the salesman return at a more convenient time. This will save him from embarrassment too. It is best, when you are alone and uncertain, to avoid making any purchases or promises to someone at the door.

For safety’s sake never invite a stranger into your home when you are alone.


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