Chivvy by Michael Rosen


The poem ‘Chivvy’ has been written by the poet ‘Michael Rosen.’  The poem provides a list of different dos and don’ts that adults impose on children. The grownups regularly offer the children a litany of instructions like “speak up,” “do not stare,” “do not point,” “do not pick your nose,” “sit up,” “say please,” “less noise,” and so on. The poet questions the elders why they can not keep their suggestions to themselves.

The poem then depicts a point in time when the little child has matured and is unable to make his own decisions. The same adults then blame the grown-up child for his or her inability to think for themselves.

Stanza Wise Summary of Chivvy

Grown-ups say things like: Speak up
Don’t talk with your mouth full
Don’t stare
Don’t point
Don’t pick your nose

In the preceding stanza, the poet states that elders/older people always teach small children to speak out when they are bashful or speaking improperly. At times, children eat and talk at the same time. As a result, the elders prohibit them from conversing while eating. Additionally, they encourage not to stare at anything intensely or to divert someone’s attention by showing his or her finger. Grown ups also dislike children sticking their fingers in their noses. As a result, they frequently advise them not to do so.

Sit up                                                                     
Say please Less noise
Shut the door behind you
Don’t drag your feet
Haven’t you got a hankie? Take your hands out of your pockets



The poet states in this stanza that adults used to tell children to sit properly. Small children should always say ‘please’ when they require assistance or something from someone. If the children make a lot of noise, they are told to quiet down. If they wish to close the door when a youngster is nearby, they will ask him or her to do it but will not close the door themselves. They will request that you refrain from dragging your feet, whether consciously or unknowingly. If necessary, they will inquire as to whether you are carrying your hankie or not. They dislike having their hands in their pockets, and whenever they witness a youngster doing so, they will request that the child remove his/her hands from his/her pockets.

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Pull your socks up                            
stand up straight say thank you
Don’t interrupt
No one thinks you’re funny
Take your elbows off the table

In this stanza, the poet continues with more ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. Adults instruct children to pull up their socks and stand straight if they are unsteady on their feet. They also request that they refrain from interfering in the discussion. When a child attempts to make others laugh, they ignore or condemn him or her. They do not like it when the child puts his or her hands on the table, so they ask the child not to do so in front of others.

Can’t you make your own
Mind up about anything?

In this couple, the poet highlights the disparity in the grown-ups’ directions such as ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ . When the children want to use their minds to do something on their own, they are forbidden to do so. However, if they just obey their orders, it is assumed that they are incapable of using their own judgement.

Questions and Answers

Short Questions

Q.1. Why are the instructions given?
Ans: The instructions are given so that the child may learn good manners.

Q. 2. Who have the habit of always instructing the child?
Ans: Grown-ups have the habit of always instructing the child.

Q. 3. How far are the instructions liked by the children?
Ans: They are not liked by most children.

Q. 4. Do you have a hankie?
Ans: Yes

Q. 5. It is good manners to keep your hand inside the pocket? 
Ans: No, it is a bad manner.

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Q.6.  Do you think the adults should stop instructions to the children?
Ans: No, the adults must instruct the children but they should do so in a pleased way. 

Answers of the Textbook Questions

Q. 1. The last two lines of the poem are not prohibitions or instruction. What is the adult now asking the child to do? Do you think the poet is suggesting that this is unreasonable? Why?
Ans: In the final two lines, the adults are asking that the child think independently and make decisions on his or her own, which is ridiculous given that they themselves do not enable the child to make any decisions. They constantly advise him on what to do and what not to do. As a result, their insistence on the child making up his own mind is clearly ridiculous.

Q. 2. Why do you think grown-ups say the kind of things mentioned in the poem? Is it important that they teach children good manners, and how to behave in public?
Ans: The grownups say such things to their children in order to instil in them good manners, etiquettes, and the proper way to act in public places. Teaching the children all of these things is essential so that they learn excellent manners and how to act in society, at home, and with their elders and younger siblings. Our seniors serve as our mentors and friends.

Q3. If you had to make some rules for grown-ups to follow, what would you say? Make at least five such rules.
Ans: If we have to make some rules for grown-ups to follow, we would say:

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✏️Don’t stop us from playing,
✏️Don’t ask us to study,
✏️Allow us to watch T.V.,
✏️Take us for outings,
✏️Above all, Don’t Chivvy.

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