First we teach them to talk. Then, quietly, they are taught to express themselves without lapsing into insult, defamation and rudeness. In short, we guide them, so that they can give their opinion while remaining polite.
But what is politeness? Is there a universal definition? This is what we first tried to find out, by going through several books.
Politeness, essential in our relations and our exchanges
We often hear that politeness is a social lubricant, that is to say that it facilitates relationships and better living together. All these little phrases that we say, almost on autopilot mode, and the hygienic efforts that we make (dress appropriately, wash, take care of our breath, etc.), are part of this trend. In this sense, it would be fair to call politeness universal, but the way it is expressed differs from one society to another, and even from one individual to another.
Politeness from generation to generation
Also, the scales that define politeness represent “a set of attitudes and behaviors taught to new generations, itadapts to and accompanies changes in relationships with others and with everyone in society” (Duchesne, Sophie. (1997), pp. 60-76). We must therefore keep in mind that the rules of politeness that underpinned our education are not necessarily the same today.
In the end, what is politeness?
To define politeness more adequately, we will quote Dominique Picard: “Politeness […] comes in the form of a set of rules proposing models of conduct adapted to different social situations. This type of code exists in all cultures and its role is fundamental” (Politeness, etiquette and social relations (2010)).
Polite with others, such as in verbal exchanges
Politeness must be present, even in the arguments, and not be flouted under the pretext of free expression. Contrary to what some teenagers (and adults) would like to believe, free expression is a right, but it is in no way a screen for throwing platitudes.
Learning politeness in general, and more specifically when expressing opinions, cannot be learned in a day. It is a work that must be started at a very young age, in daily action and through play.
The opinion of two parents
Each parent has their own vision, their own way of approaching the question of politeness. Among the Proulx, for example, politeness must be shared. “There is no debate about it: I am polite to you, you are polite to me, so that the child learns tobe polite in dealing with others. I expect respect between each member of the family, according to the needs and abilities of each. I can't have the same expectations, as a parent, of a five-year-old and a twelve-year-old. My role as a parent is to be sensitive to the needs and abilities of the child to help him grow,” explains Mr. Proulx. He goes on to say: "If the child is being rude, it is my role as a parent to mention it to him, and supervise him, so that he develops social skills that will help him be successful in relationships as an adult.”
In the Doré family, self-expression is encouraged, but it's all a matter of style. “For us, it's all in the tone. We make a lot of jokes with our children and if one of them repeats them for fun, that's fine. What doesn't pass is when they use humor to poke fun. So there, we have to take them back,”explains Christine, mother of three children.
Not a game to be won
A discussion, an exchange of opinions, is not a war to be won. It is a locutionary act that allows to share, to deepen reflections and, sometimes even, to change opinions. “The person who asserts himself must apply himself to preserving the quality of his relationship and this with all the more care as it is important. It is obvious that we cannot say everything we think, in any way or in all circumstances” (Louis Chalout and the others (2014)).
Some advice to helpchildren to express themselves freely and politely
To express an opinion is to express one's thoughts. To achieve this, you have to know how to choose the right moment, you have to understand that certain places or certain times are inappropriate for exchanges. And it's up to us parents to distinguish between good and bad times to speak up.
If you claim the right to express yourself, you should know that others enjoy the same prerogative. In addition, children must also be taught the art of listening and fair play: if you demand total frankness from your counterpart, you must do the same.
Of course, respect is required. We cannot fall into filthy remarks or vulgarity. Use neutral language and leave sarcasm aside. Even more difficult, you have to demonstrate intellectual honesty (being able to question yourself, demonstrate good faith and objectivity).
In conclusion, from a very young age, we encourage children to express themselves and we serve them as a guide or better, we give them an example by investing in rich and respectful exchanges with those around us..
Duchesne, Sophie (1997). Politeness between usefulness and pleasure: Modes of learning politeness in early childhood. In Spirit, No 234. pp. 60-76.
Fluckiger, Cédric and Hétier Renaud (2014). Educational research. p. 212. Retrieved from sitehttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Simonian_Stephane/publication/281116609_Rehabilitating_Humans_With_Technology/links/5a8a89d5458515b8af950eaf/Rehabilitating-Humans-with-Technology.pdfpage=40