If we judge the importance of a topic by how many verses the Bible contains about it, certainly the way we communicate with each other must be very important! There are many Scriptures about the way we use our tongue and how we should control our speech. So for this week’s Mannerly Monday, let’s discuss manners we can teach our children as they communicate with others.
- Honesty is the best policy. Children seem to learn to lie at an early age. We had a brief period during which one daughter would tell us things that were an obvious falsehood in spite of the fact that she knew she would be punished for it. Trust among family members and others can only come when there is truth, so this is certainly one of the fundamental rules to establish with our children.
- Think before you speak. Let’s face it – that’s a difficult thing even for adults. Yet how much pain and hurt we can all save ourselves if we will put this into practice.
- Keep your speech free from gossip. In general, don’t say behind someone’s back what you wouldn’t say to their face. Another thing to remember is that if a person talks to you about someone else, chances are good that they will talk about you to someone else.
- Always respond when someone speaks to you. We have our children say “yes/no ma’am” or “yes/no sir.” I also have stressed to the girls that shrugging their shoulders is not a proper way to reply (a pet peeve of mine!)
- Listen with eye contact. My husband has emphasized this with the girls, that they are to look someone in the face when they are talking to them.
- Refrain from proud or boastful speech. Most people are not interested in hearing you talk about yourself.
- Don’t tell secrets in front of others. Similarly, keep from whispering or pointing fingers when you are talking in a group.
When possible, I like to find anecdotes or stories to share with the girls to illustrate these principles. How wonderful it would be if I could model all of these behaviors perfectly for my girls! I continually struggle with controlling my tongue. This is a matter in which I must continually yield to the Holy Spirit.
Do you have other manners you have taught your children in regards to speech? Can you share practical ways to emphasize these ideas with your children?