This is a subject that gets me a little “hot under the collar,” if you know what I mean: taking advantage of others. As I hope we understand by now, true etiquette means being considerate of others. Taking advantage of someone else is the most impolite behavior one can demonstrate. As I’ve stated before, I think it is so important that we are very detail oriented when trying to teach our children important principles. For instance, when trying to teach our children to be honest, it’s important that we use many examples, so that our children understand that dishonesty is more than not telling a lie. Taking advantage of another person, or a situation is a form of dishonesty. Let’s make sure our children understand the different “looks” of dishonesty, so that they can pride themselves in striving to be honest and polite in every way.
So often, we get upset with our children, because they do not react or behave in a certain way. We assume that if we’ve told them to be polite, that they know what’s not polite. However, I’ve learned that if we want a certain behavior, it’s helpful to make sure we have given our children the tools, the words, the understanding, so they know exactly what is expected of them and why it is to their advantage when they meet those expectations.
“Taking advantage,” a form of dishonesty, can be demonstrated in many different circumstances. I will mention a few examples. When we take advantage of someone due to their lack of knowledge, lack of intelligence, lack of understanding, or lack of means (abilities), we are in the wrong. When we take advantage of someone due to their weakened emotional state, extreme compassion or any other condition that makes them vulnerable (weak) in making a logical and sensible decision, we are in the wrong. For instance, asking our grandma, who has a very difficult time telling her grandchildren “No,” to buy us an expensive item (even though we know she does not have a lot of money), is taking advantage of her. Likewise, when someone gives us too much back in “change” after a transaction, failing to give the money back or to inform the person of their error is taking advantage of their lack of knowledge or awareness. Once again, this type of behavior is impolite and shows poor character. Yet another example occurs when we do not disclose all relevant information that someone would need to make a proper decision. An example of this would be failing to give our parents all the details of a planned “outing” with friends. This is taking advantage and is a form of dishonesty.
This can be a very informative and interesting discussion with your children. Most children think that being dishonest is telling a lie. However, as we age and mature, hopefully, we understand that dishonestly can be exhibited in many forms. Discuss with your children using many examples of different forms of dishonesty such as taking advantage of others, withholding information, being secretive, avoiding responsibilities, etc. Allow your children to discuss and understand why these behaviors are examples of dishonesty and the opposite of proper manners.
Love those children by teaching them correct principles. Have a great month.
CEO/The Etiquette Factory