Common Sense and Common Courtesy are not too Common

Taking public transportation can provide some fodder for observation into human behavior.

A couple of weeks back, I took the public bus and sat in the middle of the last row of seats. Teenage guy from NJC pressed bell, I stood up and let him step out of the seat. He refused to get out of the seat, craned his neck to look out for his bus-stop, waiting for the perfect moment to leave his seat, like a second before the bus stopped.

While I was stood there, hanging on to the pole for dear life as the maniacal bus driver drove frantically towards the next bus stop. I desperately clung on, waiting for the youth to leave his seat. As he walked passed me, I had to restrain myself from whacking his head with my handbag.

What’s wrong with some of these youths? Are they so overwhelmed by the academic demands in their scholarly life that they don’t know how to be embarrassed or show some consideration for the people around them? Have some parent’s obsessions with their academic performance caused them to neglect teaching their children basic courtesy and be sensitive to their surroundings?

My other pet peeves with youths, include those who walk right into little kids. I have reminded K each time when we are a mall, to look out for those ‘young people’ around Uncle Nick’s age (my brother’s age, the 16 – 21 year olds. I apologised for the stereotype, if you are in this age group and reading this!). To always be alert and make sure he does not walk into their path. Or move away from their path if he sees them walking towards him, if not risk getting knocked over.


Do the ‘Hide and Seek’

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How am I training my son to be alert and aware of his surroundings? Hb and I do the ‘Hide and Seek’ very often in public places. When K is occupied looking at toys and things that interest him, Hb and I duck and hide behind a wall, or deliberately walk away from him. SOP for him is to come looking for us calmly and then asking nicely that he wants us to stand next to him while he looks at his stuff.

The first ‘Hide and Seek’ was attempted was he was 4, quite a painful one for the boy to learn. We were at a Toy shop and hb and I did our ‘running away’. When the boy looked up, he could not see us in his usual line of sight, and he ended up frantically looking for us, while we were watching him from behind toy shelves. He was upset by this incident, but he has since learnt that he needs to be alert each time he is in a public place.

We still do the ‘Hide and Seek’ when we are out in malls and the boy makes the point to look up for us while looking at his things, and is quick to catch up with us when he sees us walking away. So we have trained him to be quite alert for a 5 year old.

Crazy cruel parents, maybe. Stressful being my kid, very likely. But I think this is so necessary for a child to know, albeit learning the hard way.


Courtesy is for You and Me

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What other common courtesies I have taught him to practice often?

Make eye contact with people when they talk to you, respond when you are spoken to, and for goodness sake, always spare a thought for others, and not just yourself. Be considerate. And most of all don’t forget the magic words, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’. And you really don’t need to be reminded to greet elders, or your friends’ parents.

He hasn’t quite mastered all these common courtesies and will need reminders from time to time, but these things rank really high on my important-things-to-teach-my-child list.

As for those who need a crash course in learning common courtesies, I think we desperately need to bring back SINGA the Lion for the young ones (but please do something about his outfit!).


And how about a Korean-eques looking male/female dreamboat with doe eyes, who sings and dances fabulously and will always mind her ‘P’s and Q’s’ for the youths? Could be useful as a reminder for the parents who have forgotten about teaching these courtesies to their kids. Whatever works.


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  1. I agree that many youngesters nowadays do not have any common sense. It makes it all the more important to teach our own kids what is right.
    Dominique@Dominique’s Desk´s last blog post ..Writer’s Workshop: U Never Thought of it

    Rachel Reply:

    I wonder what happened along the way when these kids were growing up, their parents just forgot about the essentials that were needed for their kids.

  2. I love your version of ‘Hide and Seek’ and will definitely try it in a few years’ time when my baby is old enough. Thanks for sharing!

    Rachel Reply:

    Haha…hope it goes well with the first attempt :)

  3. Elizabeth says:

    As an educator, I’ll state from the onset that common sense is no longer common and parents these days lack courtesy and civility themselves!

    Which is why it is so important to train our kids. I’m making my kids stand tall and proud to greet people and say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’!
    Elizabeth´s last blog post ..Say “aah” and let me feed you

    Rachel Reply:

    Totally agree with the bit about the parents – parents have to model the right behavior for their kids. We definitely can’t neglect the importance of teaching these essentials to our children.

  4. Personally, I suspect the younger generation are too well-protected, parents pampered them from young, and they think the world of themselves.

    Some chaps will “Wake up” during army stint, when we are forced to live in a community. Singaporeans have a lot to catch up, in terms of empathy :)
    SengkangBabies´s last blog post ..Racism is everywhere

    Rachel Reply:

    Teenagers are individualistic, their stage of identity development tend to over-shadow other things, thinking for others is probably not top of their concerns in their stage of development. So crucial that parents build a bond from a very young age, so when it comes to this teenage stage, the teens can learn from the right role models, who are the parents themselves.

  5. On his 1st wandering off in Kinokuniya, I was searching frantically for him, its so difficult to locate a 4yr old amongst the rolls and rolls of shelves. I found him when I heard a voice shouting “Help me! Mummy! Help ME!” from far away. You would have thought an adult will be at his side trying to calm him after hearing his cries for help, but no one was there though many were staring at him.

    I taught DinoEgg to say OUCH very loud if some *blind* person walks into his path and steps/bump into him. The person will usually say sorry. If they dun, DinoEgg will say “He is so rude! He did not say sorry!” haha! Crude me n my son.

    Rachel Reply:

    I think Singapore is becoming less of a caring society, so clear from your experience with Z being lost. Might be different though if any of the onlookers are parents themselves, that way I think they will tend to be more empathetic.

  6. Oh dear, what’s happening to the youths in sg? I sure hope they don’t let me bump into them when I get back. Ok, I’m sure I’m going to meet some. Anyway thanks for sharing this. I play the hide and seek with Angel too. It really helps to let them know that it’s important to keep an eye out even if they are super engrossed in what they are looking at. =)
    Summer´s last blog post ..The Name Game

    Rachel Reply:

    I am sure u are going to find this a common occurrence with the youths in Singapore..very common these days.

  7. Oh this just happened to me yesterday! 2 women/girls (I dont know I didnt notice) just brushed past my girl and 1 of them even bumped her head with her bag… it’s like hello?!?! -_-
    Madeline´s last blog post ..A Day in the Life of a Psychologist Mum

    Rachel Reply:

    Looks like it is getting alot more common these days, most just don’t bother to look out for people around them.

  8. Nice to read your post after seeing one telling parents to be more thick-skinned and ignore people who disliked their kids being noisy on trains. Probably, the NJC boy had such parents. They weren’t taught to think about others. It’s a generation of Me, Me, ME after all.

    I realised we practised your ‘hide and seek’ with my nephew too, albeit ‘unknowingly’. It’s just that instead of purposely hiding, we would continue on our business without him if he stopped, although one of us always had an eye on him, and would call out to him before he panicked too much searching for us, or before we got too far away. Now that you mentioned it, that is the reason why he knows to look around for us and ask us to stop before he stops to look at something, isn’t it :)