Cultivate good habits among young

Pupils from Westwood Primary School celebrating Racial Harmony Day on July 22, 2019.
Pupils from Westwood Primary School celebrating Racial Harmony Day on July 22, 2019.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

From sound systems broadcasting gentle reminders to prominent "Thank you for returning your tray" signs posted about, it appears that diners at foodcourts and hawker centres have no excuse to "forget" to return their trays; yet, the majority of them still neglect to do so.

To be fair, many of them might have been told before that returning their trays will reduce the elderly cleaners to redundancy and deprive them of their job (How we can be better as a society, July 23).

It would be very helpful for foodcourts and hawker centres to assure society that none of these elderly bussers will lose their employment as a result of diners returning their trays.

Beyond the need to demonstrate to the young the civility in returning our own trays, we must coach them at every opportunity on returning public items that they use - even if they have paid to use them.

As an example, take the public libraries. Anyone who has been to these cherished places on a crowded day can see piles of books littered in the Children's Section.

Despite working ceaselessly to return the books to the rightful shelves, the librarians cannot be expected to keep up with the dozens more pairs of little hands removing them. Regardless, children should be taught to return the books to where they belong or, at the very least, place them on the trolleys or bins for returned books.

Other instances of similar misconduct can be spotted at public attractions. For example, there are places that offer excellent role-play environments where children can learn about shopping at supermarkets with shelves stocked with play items from dairy to meat products. Yet too often, children can be seen leaving behind what they have played with for the attendants to clean up.

It doesn't matter if these children have paid to use the facility or if it's "the attendant's job" to keep the site organised; parents and caregivers should still encourage and ensure that their children return items they have played with to where they belong as part of the learn-and-play process.

It is far better to inculcate the right habits in the young and encourage them by being examples they can look up to.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2019, with the headline 'Cultivate good habits among young'. Print Edition | Subscribe