A well behaved child ...

Un enfant bien élevé ...

can assess the situation and behave accordingly.

doesn't disrespect parents.
reasonably self-sufficient depending on age.
is not an attention hog.

doesn't hit other children, run around and be noisy all of the time, and listens to his parents.

Doesn't shout

follows directions well, polite, not unruly, and

follows their parents, listens to them, and does not normally disrupt family life.

gets treats.

is obedient, respectful, considerate and trustworthy.

is one who respects his/her parents.

is respectful and well-mannered.

is respectful to their elders even when they disagree.

is submissive.

isn't spoiled, is loved, has good role models.

knows how to respect others.
It looks like a lot of children nowadays do not respect others.

listens and learns from his or her mistakes.

listens to his/her parent. He/she does not bully other children or causes trouble

listens to his/her parents, is not greedy, and does not cry while sitting in the airplane :-)

listens to the advice of his parents and elders, and does not go out of his way to make trouble.

listens to their parents

needs to misbehave.

never cries

obeys their parents.

will not attack, bite, scream, or spit on you, for example.

will think about what he is doing and what he is told to do.

c'est un enfant poli, qui a de bonnes manières, qui n'est pas insolent ou dérangeant.

dit merci et sait se tenir en groupe. N'est pas capricieux

dit s'il te plaît, merci, bonjour et laisse les personnes âgées, handicapées ou enceintes s'assoir à sa place.

doit se montrer respectueux envers les adultes et limiter ses bêtises.

est civilisé, poli, accompli et tolérant.

est poli

est poli et curieux

est poli et discipliné

est poli, agréable, a confiance

est poli, ne mâche pas la bouche ouverte et reste à sa place

est poli, sérieux, sociable

est respectueux des autres et de ce qui l'entoure, et poli.

est un anfent poli

est un enfant poli, gentil, et à l'écoute

est un enfant poli, qui fait attention aux affaires des autres, qui mange correctement à table

est un enfant qui sait se tenir en public, qui est polie, qui obéi à ses parents.

ne fait pas de crises et ne dit jamais "je veux".

poli, sage

respecte les gens
est apprécié
est reconnaissant

sait se tenir convenablement.


The responses to what defines a well-behaved child interest me because I thought that the discepancy in response between Americans and French in "individualism" might carry over into children.  Aside from violence and rudenes, I don't really think I can define a well-behaved child. Someday, the way I see the world could be viewed as completely backwards, and perhaps a child could have rebelled against me and appeared misbehaved, yet have exhibited much more independent and individualistic thinking.  The mind of a child is fresh, with no printing on it except for that which it has at birth and that which adults place on it, and a society cannot progress if the next generation does nothing other than what it is told.  And that is not good behavior.

Ta remarque est très intéressante, au départ, ta position est celle de notre philosophe Rouuseau, qui pensait que l'homme étaitr bon par nature; veux-tu dire qu'il ne faut pas intervenir dans la manière dont un enfant se comporte dans ses relations avec les autres?

Aaron, c'est étonnant de voir que tu ne peux pas définir ce qu'est un enfant bien élevé car c'est très important en France, et tout le monde a une idée à ce sujet! Comment expliquer cette différence de point de vue?

Je suis d'accord avec les 2 remarques précèdentes. Aaron, pourrais tu développer un peu plus? :)

It's very interesting to me that you should mention Rousseau here, as it seems like the American perception of a well-behaved child is much more of the noble savage than is the French child... even the construct "bien eleve" is literally translated as "well brought-up," not necessarily just "well behaved." The French mention politeness in some form 19 (!) times. The Americans take a slightly different spin on it: they prefer the term "respectful," but they still mention it only 7 times. In addition, the French mention certain positive characteristics having to do with the child's character like "curieux," "tolerant," "serieux," "sociable," which actually speak a lot to the child's development and not necessarily to his intrinstic qualities. 

I am wondering if the French actually expect more from their children, just as they expect people to be more outwardly polite (as in the other prompt :-p)? Are customs of behavior and politeness taught at a very early age and with strict rules, not just with general "do not be selfish and try to respect others?"

Personally, I think that a well-behaved and well-raised child (in this context I will deliberately use both phrases) is a child who has learned certain core values from his parents and mentors. I think that respect is one of those values, as are honestly and responsibility. Everything else can be built on that foundation as the child choses (and perhaps as the environment will help). In that, I suppose I second Rousseau's idea that evil is not intrinsic to the human being, but I take more of John Locke's tabula rasa perspective in that I think that the child still needs to be given some sort of basis on which to be able to make value judgments, preferably a basis within oneself and not in the opinions of others.

Mariya, I agree with you in that the French seem to expect more out of their children. Some American responses include behaviors not expected of a child, like biting, hitting, or crying. The French, on the other hand, write about how a child must  say please and thank you, eat correctly at the table, and help elderly people to sit. I think this difference in expectations has to with the way the French give more importance to politeness and good manners than the Americans.

I am wondering what is the relationship between parents and their kids in France? Are parents looked more as friendly or authoritative figures? 

A lot of American responses referred to parents whereas as the French responses were very specific with regards to actions. I was a little surprised by the American responses because it seemed as if Americans do not really know what defines a well-behaved child whereas the French do (whether you agree with them or not).

I have a question for my french colleagues: do you have friends who are French by citizenship yet grew up in the US? If you do, can you comment on differences in their manners? I am curious to know if the location of upbringing will change the child's manners.


pour répondre à ta questions les parents sont en général un peu des deux, pour dire vrai. Par exemple dans ma famille mes parents sont plutôt "cool", ils ne sont pas toujours sur mon dos, me laisse sortir sans contraintes mais cela ne m'empêche pas d'être polie, comme nous l'avons cité plusieur fois, et d'avoir des bonnes manièresen public, peut être aussi parceque je suis responsable (sans me vanter :D).

quand les enfants sont intenable les parents sont plus sévèreq, parfois même trop; mais quand les enfants sont faciles à vivre il est vrai que les parents sont moins "présent", je veux dire par la qu'ils sont quand même là pour nous "cadré" mais ilsnous laisse plus de liberté, ils ont plus confiance en nous.

c'est interessant de voir que pour vous un enfant bien élevé, donc qui a une bonne éducation par sa famille, est un enfant en qui on peut avoir confiance (j'ai noté le mot "trustworthy"); , ou alors (nous sommes plutôt d'accord la dessus) qui écoute ses parents, sais se tenir en publique.

j'aimerai juste savoir en quoi, a votre avis, la confiance fait partie de l'éducation? (ne peut-on pas être bien éduqué mais indigne de confiance?)

Evita, oui, je connais quelqu'un qui a vécu une grande partie de son enfance aux US: quand elle est revenue en France à 16ans, elle a eu beaucoup de difficultés avec ses profs, par exemple, parce qu'elle avait tendance à les tutoyer en cours, à les interrompre souvent, etc... En fait, elle n'avait pas les mêmes codes que les autres français élevé en France, même si ses parents étaient farnçais; il doit donc y avoir une forte influence du pays et de sa culture!

I think Elodie brings up an interesting point--where does trust fit into all this?  Surely trust plays a role in a parent's interactions with their children.  As you mentioned yourself, Elodie, your parents are cool and let you go out without imposing too many rules or asking too many questions; obviously there is a high level of trust there.  So from a parents' standpoint, trust is something that would exemplify a well-behaved child.  I

As for where it fits into education, I'm not exactly sure--I definitely feel like someone can be well educated (in a scholarly sense) and not trustworthy, but if I had to compare a very trustworthy kid with a very educated one, I'd say the trustworthy one is a more "well behaved child".  But if we think about educated in the familial/interpersonal sense (learning manners and how to conduct oneself), then I would say being educated tends to come hand in hand with being trustworthy (since being educated is actually making you a better person).

I also think it's interesting how many of the answers from American students are in the form of "does not...."  Do we define our image of a well-behaved child on what he/she doesn't do rather than what he/she does do?

We had an interesting discussion in my French class in high school about responsibility and how to know when a child is ready to be responsible, but the one thing that people seem to forget is that a child can't be responsible until he has something for which to be responsible. Parents often complain that children don't appreciate money, yet they exclude their children from any financial discussions.  How else can you expect a child to view money when you don't help them understand the work it takes to earn it? Children should be included in financial discussions very early on, not in a "look at the budget" sense but more like "ok-so I will work 40 hours this week and make ___ dollars, this is how we can afford to spend it and what we need to save, and someday you (my child) will be able to do the same."

In response to Christian, I say I can't define a well-behaved child because (assuming an optimistic viewpoint of the individual as Martine pointed out) perhaps I have learned an attitude or behavior myself growing up that will be considered offensive or incorrect sometime in the future, and the "blank slate" (carte blanche) mind of a child might be an unbiased observer of my attitude.  It's a simple as asking why-children are so good at that, and I think adults are less so.


I think trust plays a large part in the education and development of children. They must come to a point when they can make their own decisions without parental input. When these kids grow up and enter the real world, they're gonna be on their own and their parents are not gonna be there to help them. Trust allows children to taste this independence little by little. In this manner,  when these kids grow up and become independent, they will most likely lead successful lives.



I think perhaps education may be referring to teaching a child to be trustworthy and respectful, not necessarily anything any more concrete. It all depends (once again :-p) on whether or not you consider a child's natural state to be one of good morals, or whether these morals have to be taught.

Out of curiosity, what role do bystanders have in the education of a child? As in, is it acceptable for a person to talk to a child they meet on the street to correct a behavior?



je partage ton opinion sur la confiance; je crois que tout est basé sur la relation de confiance entre le parent et l'enfant, et cela se construit par la discussion; sans communicattion, il n'y a rien de possible.


Pour répondre à ta question, il est rare que quelqu'un dans la rue corrige ou fasse une remarque à un enfant, cela serait mal vu, surtout avec tous ces problèmes de pédophilie, les gens n'osent pas trop aborder les enfants...

Je suis frappé par le fait que les américains ne savent toujours bien ce qu'est un enfant bien élevé, alors que les français ont des idées assez arretés sur la question; sommes-nous plus conservateurs?

il est vrai mariya que si quelqu'un corrige un enfant dans la rue ce serai mal perçu, on entendrai alors "de quoi se mèle t-il?" , "ce n'est pas son enfant, il n'a rien a lui dire". Peut être que nos grands parents sont plus aptent à le faire, je prend l'exemple de mon grand père qui, un jour, n'a pas hésité a reprendre des enfants dans la rue parce qu'ils se disait des insultes pour s'amuser. Drôle de façon de s'amuser me direz-vous mais il n'y avait pas de parents pour les reprendre. Les parents n'hésitent pas à reprendre leurs enfant quand ils font des bêtises mais les grands parents ont plus de mal quand ce sont les leur en tout cas, se sont leurs petits enfants, ils préfèrent les gâter que de les gronder quand ils chahutent, ce qui rend la tâche moins facile pour les parents : "grand mère elle ne me gronde pas elle!"

est ce que aux Etats unis les grands parents interviennent beaucoup dans l'éducation des petits enfants?

Kenneth, le mot educated a un sens un peu différent pour nous ; être éduqué peut vouloir dire avoir beaucoup de connaissances, mais aussi avoir reçu une bonne éducation à la maison; visiblement, pour vous, educated correspond au premier sens et well-behaved au 2e; est-ce juste?