Monday, January 12, 2009

A Pediatrician’s View of Rude Children

Do good manners make a difference to a child’s health? Writing in Tuesday’s Science Times, pediatrician Dr. Perri Klass believes they do.
The conversations that every pediatrician has, over and over, about “limit setting” and “consistently praising good behavior” are conversations about manners. And when you are in the exam room with a child who seems to have none, you begin to wonder what is going on at home and at school, and questions of family dysfunction or neurodevelopmental problems begin to cross your mind.
Dr. Barbara Howard, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an expert on behavior and development, told me that a child’s manners were a perfectly appropriate topic to raise at a pediatric visit.
“It has a huge impact on people’s lives — why wouldn’t you bring it up?” she said. “Do they look you in the eye? If you stick your hand out do they shake it? How do they interact with the parents; do they interrupt, do they ask for things, do they open Mommy’s purse and take things out?”
Dr. Howard suggested that the whole “manners” concept might seem a little out of date — until you recast it as “social skills,” a very hot term these days. Social skills are necessary for school success, she pointed out; they affect how you do on the playground, in the classroom, in the workplace.
To read more about what a child’s manners mean to the pediatrician, read the full article, “Making Room for Miss Manners Is a Parenting Basic.” And then join the discussion below.
What do you think? Should a pediatrician comment on a child’s manners?

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