‘Greeting Elders’ – A Vanishing Virtue

Once I met a friend of mine at a grocery store. She was accompanied by her 11-year-old daughter. As we greeted each other enthusiastically, the young girl (daughter) kept standing right there with a blank face. After exchanging pleasantries with the mother, I turned to the girl and inquired about her well-being. Politely the girl replied that she is fine too.

All good. We parted after a bit of chit chatting.

Nothing unusual. Right?

But I had a gnawing feeling in my stomach. It was not good. Why did the girl not wish me (me, being a friend of her mother and she knowing me pretty well herself)?

The reason is nothing but one simple fact – she is NOT taught or she is not taught WELL to wish and greet elders at the first place.

Possibly for most of the people this may not be a vital point of concern or a parenting flaw. They have bigger challenges to face as parents than this ‘trivial’ matter to take care and handle.

Sadly, they are so wrong.

Teaching your child to give respect to elders and everyone around is pivotal in grooming a child’s overall personality and social skills.

I remember, as a child, coming from my mother, one of the initial learning was –

“Beta….dadi ko salam kijiye/say namaste to aunty/good morning to uncle/hello to didi.”

“Whenever you meet somebody, especially anybody elder to you, greet him/wish them.”

Back then, wishing elders or anybody that you meet was important and impromptu.  It was inculcated as an inbuilt, default function in children.

Today, it is a sad state in that scenario. Out of 10 children that I come across, 9 do not wish or show a greeting gesture!

At least not on their own; may be, when some mothers nudge or give a hard look, then they come up with a meek greeting.

Why? Why we are not teaching our children from the very tender age to give respect, greet and wish when they meet people?

More than a child’s ignorance and wrong-headedness, the onus is on parents. If the parent is proactive and himself/herself exhibit good manners of ‘meet & greet’, the child will follow it inevitably.

This is what you can do to instil this good habit –

  • Teach children, starting as early as 2-3 years, to say any form of greeting.
  • Prompt the child to greet when you meet somebody.
  • Before this, you yourself greet the person you meet, loud and clear.
  • In grown up children, if you observe that the child is not extending greetings, remind him or her patiently, over and over
  • Make the child say a salutation when they get up in the morning to all family members.

Remember, children are like clay in the potter’s hand. 

We, as adults, can mold them the way we desire.


“Your child is most likely to follow your example, not your advice.”



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