I want nothing more than for my 5-year-old son to grow up to be a gentleman. Of course, I know he’s watching my every move and learns more from the way I act than from what I say. So to raise a gentleman, I too must be a gentleman in my everyday life.
Here are five of the things I’m encouraging in him.
1. Say “thank you”
When someone does something nice for you, say “thank you.” It’s such a simple thing to do, but it can really mean a lot. Saying “thank you” seems to come naturally to my son. Even on nights I know he doesn’t like what I’ve cooked for dinner he still tells me, “Thank you for making dinner, Dad.” Or at night while we’re reading books he’ll say, “Thanks for reading my story” or “Thank you for helping me learn that word.”
2. Hold doors open for others
A gentleman holds doors open for others, men or women. It’s just the polite thing to do. Yes, it is annoying when it’s the middle of winter and your son insists on standing out in the cold holding the door open for everyone at preschool, but instilling this lesson is worth it in the long run.
3. Use a proper greeting
This is one task kids have a tough time with. I tell my son that when he meets someone for the first time, he should do three things: make eye contact, give a firm handshake and say, “Nice to meet you.” Properly meeting people is important because a limp handshake, looking away from a person and mumbling “hey” is not going to help make friends, make a good impression at a job interview, and most importantly, it’s not going to help him meet girls.
4. Serve others first
This is another task that is not always easy for kids – especially if we’re talking about passing out dessert. But, when my son is in charge of passing out a snack, drinks or dinner he’s been taught to give to his sisters first, then himself last.
5. Be honest
Did you clean your room? Did you punch your sister? Honesty – the most important characteristic can also be the hardest one to teach.