Teaching Children To Appreciate People Who Do things For Them

Recently, a video of a certain Alice (clearly not from Wonderland) went viral because she yelled at a cleaner who had mistakenly cleared her food away before she was done. The video has enraged many people who have commented on her behaviour. 

Enough has been said about what she did.

While a lot of us feel upset about how she treated the old man who is deaf and mute, are we learning something here?

Clearly, Singaporeans are empathetic because they feel upset about what the cleaner had to put up with. Now the question is, do we show appreciation for Cleaners like the old man?

I’m going to say this first. I am not a perfect parent, but I try my best to teach my children manners. I remind them to say thank you when cleaners come by to clear our tables whenever we eat at Hawker centres or Food courts. 

While we condemn people who mistreat cleaners and older folks, let’s not forget to teach our next generation to appreciate them and to thank them whenever they serve us. Of course, the best way to teach our children appreciation is to lead by example. Be the first ones to thank a cleaner who comes by to clear your table. Thank the waiter who serves you your food or pours water into your cup. When children see us doing this, they know what is right.

Other than saying thank you, I occasionally make small talk with cleaners who clear tables for my family. Those who have done so will agree that the smiles we see on the cleaners’ faces are priceless whenever we thank them and acknowledge them. It isn’t hard to do so. 

“Thank you, Uncle. Have you had your meal?” is all I say sometimes. Most of the cleaners are friendly and will reply me with a “Yes I have” or “Not yet but soon”. Then they smile as they carry on with their work. Occasionally, I prompt my friendly daughter and guide her as she be the one to ask “Have you had your meal?”. Most cleaners love it when the children are the ones who say thank you and ask them how they are.

Teaching children to appreciate these unsung heroes who clear and clean our tables whenever we dine out works magic both on the cleaners and the children themselves. The cleaners feel good because they are acknowledged and appreciated, and the children feel good because they have made someone happy. 

While we shake our heads and wag our fingers at those who mistreat the people who do things for us, let us remember to be the ones to appreciate these cleaners and servers too.


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