I confess that this topic is not my idea, but that of my partner.
I somehow manage to go into another mental universe when CBeebies (the BBC channel for very young children) is on and find myself with the attention span of a spaniel. I struggle to sit and watch and absorb the ‘plots’ – rather, I lose the plot.
However, my partner is different. She hangs on Mr Tumble’s every word and observe’s Mr Maker’s every instruction at Minute Make Time. And therein lies her issue. Often, she finds, words are missing. Important words.
‘Put that in the bucket’.
‘Can you move over there?’.
Would it hurt to add ‘please’?
We have both noticed that many parents also lack basic manners when speaking to their children, so it is hardly surprising that many children do not say please and thank you.
Recently, I watched with a warm glow as a hotel waiter helped a child of about 8 to select various items for breakfast. He displayed kindness and patience and it was lovely to see. The child did not utter a word and certainly not ‘thank you’. And no, this child had no trouble speaking as we heard him. Quite a lot.
Perhaps we are old-fashioned, but we have taught our toddler ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ from the beginning and it is lovely to see him now using them in social situations. It often draws positive comment, to the point that I am wondering if the words will become obsolete, as it seems so unusual for a two-year-old to say thank you and goodbye to a shop assistant, for example.
To us, manners are important. It is surprising that the BBC doesn’t seem to think so. But with the influence that children’s programmes have, it would be nice for the old-fashioned among us if the programmes taught their viewers some manners as, regrettably, the viewers’ parents may not bother.