Good manners cost nothing

Photo: iStock.com/George Marks

As adults, we should all take our responsibility as role models very seriously. Julie Robinson of ISC explores the challenges of being a role model and why teaching good manners is vital.

Back in July, the media reported that Prince Harry had found inspiration through the birth of his son to be the best possible role model. He was speaking at an event to mentors and highlighted the power of 'the invisible role model' and how you can inspire others '...to be kinder, better, greater, more successful' and have more of an impact.

As adults, we should take our responsibility as role models very seriously because we can see the effect that cultural norms have on the young and impressionable. Which parent hasn't experienced a sudden realisation that their toddler is mirroring back their own behaviours (in my case, pacing back and forth with a plastic phone pressed to her ear)? We all know that the moment a parent lets slip an expletive within a five mile radius of a child, that child will absorb it. They will then relish the chance to repeat it in polite company at an embarrassing moment, forcing us to create a narrative explaining the unfortunate vocabulary.

Mimicking the behaviours of our family and friends is a move towards acceptance into the tribe and one assumes that habits of speech, behaviour and habits of mind are all absorbed in the increasingly socially-aware youngster. Those of us with teenagers know only too well that as puberty kicks in, peer behaviour becomes the priority-influence, so the prep school years are therefore the time to inculcate good manners. This way, our children can follow in wholesome footsteps and at the very least know how they should behave, even if, for a few lost teenage years, they feel the need to experiment with rebellion.

Julie Robinson is Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Schools Council (ISC).