A well-behaved child

Un enfant bien élevé

  does not get into trouble
  who behaves and listens to their parents
  who can respect adults.
  who doesn't throw temper tantrums
  who doesn't whine a lot, has interests
  who has good maners
  who is curious and lively, but who also is aware of social rules and when to be quiet
  who is quiet and neat
  who is respectful of all people, helps out around the house, and does what they are told by their parents.
  who is respectful to adults and cooperative
  who knows the right thing to do and does it
  who listens to authority figures but also is developing their own sense of morality.
  who listens to their parents, who is polite
  who listens to their parents, who learns their manners at an early age, respectful
  who listens well and knows how to ask questions, who knows how to get someone's attention without hurting others (making terrible noises, kicking his brother or sister, etc.)
  who listens.
  who obeys authorities, is charming to adults and nice to other children
  who obeys his parents.
  who respects family, friends, and strangers
  who respects others

est poli
ne répond pas à sa mère
poli, autonome, ouvert, curieux, équillibré
qui a du savoir vivre ,qui obeit à ses parents
qui est poli et respectueux de ses camarades, parents, etc...
qui est poli, équilibré, s'exprime correctement, est autonome
qui respect ces parents et qui ne fait pas de bétise
qui respecte l'autre
qui respecte les autres, sans nécessairement se soucier des protocoles établis
qui respecte ses ainés
qui respecte ses parents
qui sait se tenir en société, qui a de bonnes manières


We have been talking about how the given prompts for this exercise rarely mean the
same thing in each language. ("Friend" versus "ami," for example.) What struck me
about this topic was that the two phrases clearly mean something different, yet the
responses we gave were quite similar. "Well Behaved-Child" implies that the child
controls itself. "Enfant Bien Elevé," translates to "Well Raised Child," which implies that
the parent(s) have control over their child. I think that in America a child's bad behavior
is generally ascribed to the parent's lack of child-rearing abilities. Does the same hold in
France? Is there an unspoken social standard for raising children?

I agree with Amy. I believe that when a child is well-behaved, a lot
of credit should go to the parents and the family they grew up in.
The same goes with the opposite situation as well - when a child is
not well-behaved the blame is put on the parents or family they
grew up in. I know when I was in elementary school and one of my
classmates misbehaved, the teacher would have to have a parent
conference. Who else are they going to hold responsible for
something a child does or says? I know my parents taught me to
be respectful, listen, obey, be polite, etc. If it wasn't for them,
however, and nobody taught me these things, I probably would
have been a noisy, obnoxious girl because I would not know any

I have noticed in my sister's High School class that there seem to be
a lot more of "misbehaved children." There are lots of people who
think it's cool to interrupt the teacher, wear inappropriate clothes to
school, make fun of other students, etc. Do you think families
today are not placing as much emphasis on teaching their children
good morals, values, and the proper way to act? Do you think this
might have to do with the increase in broken families? How are the
schools in France? Are there a lot of students who disobey the rules
or make fun of others? Are they connected to broken families? Do
they feel the need to be noticed or show off and, therefore, do
stupid things? What do you think are the reasons a child
misbehaves? Do you think emphasis on the family is an integral part
of producing a well-behaved child?



Je ne crois pas qu'il existe de stéréotype d'enfant bien élevé. Bien sur, on a tous l'image
en tête de l'enfant très poli, très bien habillé (chemise rentrée dans le pantalon,...) mais
cela ne représente pas vraiment l'enfant bien élevé.
Pour moi, ce sont les parents et non l'ecole qui doivent éduquer les enfants. Car un
enfant bien élevé est un enfant qui a été éduqué. Cela est plus facile lorsqu'il est aimé,
entouré et que son contexte familial est stable. Il est possible que dans certains cas les
familles recomposées soient source de déséquilibre pour l'enfant et que son éducation
soit plus difficile. Ce n'est pas toujours le cas et heureusement.
Dans les écoles françaises, on dit que les enfants sont moins bien élevés qu'avant mais
je crois qu'on dit cela à chaque nouvelle génération!!! On a toujours l'impression que
c'était mieux avant!!! Mais c'est tout de même vrai que dans certaines écoles,
particulièrement dans les banlieues des grandes villes, les enfants sont plus difficiles et
c'est au maître/maîtresse de les éduquer et de faire la police.

Is an "enfant bien eleve" necessarily a good thing? I feel like a well-
behaved child could be negative. This implies someone who always
does what they are told. It is also important to question authority
from time to time in order to develop one's own ideas and
thoughts, thus creating a sense of identity. Was this idea of
independent thought encouraged by your parents when you were
young? Or is the idea that children should be seen and not heard
more popular?

M, I agree with you - when I first saw the phrase a "well-behaved child," I was a
little confused/turned off. I wouldn't necessarily describe a child I liked as being "well-
behaved." That's sort of implying that a good kid does what he or she is told and listens
to adults. I think most kids are well-behaved some of the time and not as well-behaved
other times. Of course, I say this partly as a psychology major, knowing that a kid who
is badly behaved all of the time probably has a lot of other psychological and/or familial

One thing that struck me about the responses of the french class was the word
"autonome". From what I understand, it means independence, autonomy, a concept
which seems far from the American understanding of a "well-bahaved child". I wonder if
this word is meant to apply to well-RAISED children, not well-bahaved children. How do
you understand it? Would this word apply in either understanding of the phrase?

I agree with Charlotte that each generation says they were more well-behaved--I can't
tell you how many times I've heard my grandfather say "When I was a kid..." That said,
I do think that each generation has a slightly different parenting philosophy that
prevails. Do you think that parents now are taking more of a hands off approach to
parenting? This approach could be used to increase a child's independence (is that what
you meant by autonome?), to let them develop as an individual (which, as Meghan said,
seems to be especially important to the American students), or simply because today's
parents don't spend/can't spend as much time with their children because they have full-
time jobs outside the home.
I hear of more and more children who have au pairs, or full-time nannies, taking care of
them (for example my cousin's child is taken care by an au pair during the day while her
parents are at work). This situation has worked wonderfully for my cousin and her
family, and I find her daughter very well-behaved. Are many children in France raised
by nannies? Is the frequency of this increasing? Do you think this affects whether or not
a child is bien eleve?

On a different note, I was confused as to what "equilibre" means as a response to "un
enfant bien eleve". Could someone please clarify? Thanks!

It seems that "well behaved child" is also related to "a good citizen" in some ways. In
the American responses for "a good citizen", we saw that for us, a good citizen is
someone who obeys the law, but also has individuality and disobeys when the law needs
to be changed. In a strange way, a "well behaved child" seems similar- a kid who is
respectful, but who has individuality and is happy while making others happy. For the
INT students, both definitions seem to be strictly "respectful" and always adhering to
rules. Any thoughts on this? Am i off-base?