Courtesy and Kindness: It’s More Than Please and Thank You

Just like that, it’s fall! Another season, another transition. This time of year brings change for most of us as we leave summer behind and head back to a new school, work, or activity schedule. I don’t know about you but creating my kids’ school year schedule and then actually implementing and adjusting to it is pretty stressful! However, transition periods like these also offer great teaching moments. If I can take the opportunity to work on life skills, whether for my kids OR myself, then great! So, I was excited when I recently learned that September is National Courtesy Month.

Yes, I really was excited. When it comes to etiquette, good manners, social graces, common courtesy, and generally acting like a decent human being, sign me up!

RSVP for that bridal shower!

September is the perfect time to celebrate and actively practice courtesy. We are all running– and driving– around quickly. There is more to do and less time in which to do it. It might require an extra pause to practice that kindness we are always preaching to our kids.

But what exactly IS courtesy? I’m a complete grammar geek, so I went straight to the dictionary, which says courtesy is “excellence of manners or social conduct; a courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.” I also clicked on considerate, which means “showing kindly awareness or regard for another’s feelings, circumstances, etc.” The terms in those definitions give you all the feels, am I right?

Yet we all know in order for a toddler or a teen to listen (and to save our own mom sanity as we repeat life lessons for the next couple of decades), these principles must be boiled down to the basics. In that regard, I think this comes down to kindness, respect, and thinking about the other guy.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a list of some of the “top offender” pet peeves and social taboos people have complained of that you may come across as we head into the business of fall:

  • Not following the carpool/parking rules at school/daycare
  • Inappropriate parent behavior at youth sporting events/extracurricular activities
  • Not RSVP’ing properly (or at all!) to an event
  • Talking loudly, texting, or improperly using social media on cell phones in public when you shouldn’t be
  • Don’t be that person in the elevator– let the other people off before you get on
  • When someone walks or stands, so that they block the sidewalk/hallway, and does not make way when you pass by
  • Cutting in lines
  • Cars not stopping/slowing in pedestrian crosswalks
  • Cars waiting in the middle of the walk instead of parking in a legal spot
  • Not using turn signals
  • Failing to return shopping carts to the cart return in the parking lot
  • Poor merging on the freeway

If you stop to think about it, there is rationale behind the social rules we follow, and it’s no wonder that people get annoyed at an offender’s lack of courtesy. From thinking about others (good old-fashioned manners), to efficiency (proper merging on the road, forming a line), to safety (crosswalks, carpool lane rules), there is logic to common courtesy!

Dad as crossing guard during a swim meet – safety first!

So this month, as you settle into the fall routine and pull through Starbucks, school drop off or are headed across town to soccer (did you remember the snacks?!), try and remember our little chat about courtesy. And remind your kids because it’ll make you feel good, and it’s the right thing to do. One of these days, the “other guy” just might be you!

What you do to encourage your kids to show more kindness? Or be more courteous?


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