Indian Etiquettes Every Child Should Learn
India as a country is uniquely different with its vast diversity and rich cultural heritage. Ours is one of the oldest civilizations in the world that spans thousands of years and embraces various religions, customs, traditions and beliefs. The influence of each community on others can be seen in architecture, music, clothing, food, and art to name a few.
Our culture, traditions and etiquette is learnt and passed on from one generation to the next with the help of religious leaders, the community we live in, grandparents, parents and school teachers. Certain rituals, customs and etiquette is learnt by being an active participant in various ceremonies, festivals, family gatherings and so on. The social etiquette for kids is also learnt by participating in these events.
With the onset of the internet, the world has opened up, our children are exposed to entertainment, music, languages and cultures other than our own, and as a result the exposure to our own culture has reduced. Another reason for the decrease in traditions is the rise in nuclear families. With both parents working children are not able to see and participate in many rituals otherwise regularly done in joint families, there are no grandparents around to teach the Indian etiquettes to our kids.
Being world citizens it is good to be aware of the social etiquettes accepted worldwide, but in India we have our own set of social etiquettes for kids and adults. To begin with, try out these simple etiquette lessons for kids that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
- Namaskaar or greetings – Greeting a person you know with a genuine smile, when you meet them is a sign of respect, and lets the person know that they are valued. If the person is closer to the child’s age then it’s okay to use their name, if a bit older then we address them with their suitable family title, if they are not related to us certain titles are still used like didi, bhaiya (or similar ) or a simple aunty or uncle if they are much older than you. Teach your child the suitable titles early on and prompt them till they get it right. While it’s “cool “to extend your hand for a handshake as a greeting, for elders the “Namaste“ greeting is preferred and used as a sign of respect.
- Look at the person when talking to them – Looking at the person when talking to them is a good social etiquette for kids to learn, it shows the person you care about them, it is a simple and effective way to connect with the other person. Watching TV or staring at the phone when someone is talking to you is a sign of disrespect and gives the message that you’re not interested in what they have to say.
- Active listening – This is an etiquette that will prove very beneficial to them in the long run. Listening and responding makes the conversation lively as well as helps retain the information that is shared. For active listening it is important to listen before responding.
- Comment Positively – Everyone loves compliments and listening to positive comments. Teach your child simple positive comments like, “I had a good time” or “I really enjoyed myself here” or “you have a lovely home”, “I’m happy to meet you”, “Thank you for inviting me over”. Giving positive comments leaves the other person with a good feeling, it displays gratitude from your side and shows that your child is well mannered. Along with positive comments we must also remember to teach our children to keep negative comments to themselves and maybe talk about it when you are home and alone together.
- Wait their turn – Children love to be a part of a family discussion, however very often they cannot contain their excitement and just shout out whatever comes to their mind not realizing that they may be interrupting an important thought in the discussion. Children should be taught not to interrupt when elders are talking and to wait their turn or say “excuse me”, if they’d like to say something. In school they are encouraged to raise their hands. As valuable or trivial your child’s input might be, giving them a positive comment in return, would make them feel heard and appreciated, followed by whether it was a good idea or not.
- Golden words – Teaching your child how to correctly use words like “please”, “thank you”, “sorry”, “excuse me”. These words need to be regularly used in their daily lives and are also important in the social etiquette training for kids. Along with these, your child can be taught to knock before opening a closed door.
- Bad language – Children have a very sharp sense of hearing and pick up new words very quickly. We cannot always control what our child hears in the outside world but we certainly can be careful of the way we speak at home. They may pick up a few bad words as they grow up, so we have to teach our children that certain words are not appropriate and hurtful.
- Help and respect everyone – Children are keen observers and very soon they will be able to spot certain differences between people around them. You will often see them pointing at people and making rude comments like, ‘why is that boy so fat?’, or ‘why is that man bald?, or “look dad, that lady just fell down”, “ why is that person asking for money/food?”. Children don’t mean to be rude, they just haven’t learnt the right social etiquette yet. Instead of being embarrassed, use this as a teachable moment and tell your child that it is not okay to point to other people, and that as humans we need to be kind and helpful to others around us, especially the less fortunate.
While it is easier to explain to our children what we want them to do, it is far more effective to practice it at home. Be good role models for your kids, our young children admire us anyway, so modeling the correct and accepted forms of behavior will be easy for them to follow. Other important Indian etiquettes to follow would be to stand in one place when they hear the national anthem and even sing it if they know it. To recognize and respect the Indian flag and keep it properly if you have one at home. To be respectful of other people’s religious beliefs and around other deities.
Taking the trouble with etiquette lessons for our kids is what will teach them how to handle themselves in a civilized world. Mistakes will happen, but it is necessary to learn from them and move on. Start with the basic etiquettes for kids and build on them as your child grows.
At Eurokids we believe in helping out children grow into well-mannered kids who are capable of understanding and respecting others around them as well as using acceptable ways to express themselves. Our teachers do their best to explain and help the children handle themselves and their emotions in the classroom, school and home. To find a center closest to you, enroll your child and watch them turn out into well-mannered young people.