Do you say please and thank you to your kids?
I heard something the other day while at the park with my toddler that had me thinking. It was a conversation between a mom and her son, who looked like he was about 6 or 7. She had been telling him to get off the play equipment because it was time to go home. He didn’t listen to her and carried on playing so she got very cross and started raising her voice telling him to get off and come down. After a few minutes he begrudgingly walked away from the slide and with his head down he walked over to his mom. She gathered her other child and angrily said “Lets go”. The little boy then grinned up at his mum and said, “Mummy, you didn’t say thank you.” This cheeky comment was answered with, “Don’t be cheeky, I am a mummy so I don’t have to say ‘thank you’ because you should just do what I say.”
He hung his head and followed his mom out of the park.
Was she right? As parents should we not show gratitude when our kids listen even if it took several times to repeat the instructions? Or should we make sure to say thank you and please to our kids regardless? I think sometimes we forget how important it is that we model the behaviour that we want our kids to have.
Before our kids can even talk we are determined that they learn manners. Asking a crawling six month old to say ‘sorry’ for grabbing a toy from another baby. But we want them to have good manners at a young age so this is important right?
Our kids try our patience all the time when we have to ask them to do something or not do something over and over. When they wait until the last minute after you have been nagging them so the last thing we think they deserve is a thank you. But teaching kids that we only say please and thank you to people who deserve isn’t what we have in mind when we ask them to say it to others.
I do think that we as parents sometimes believe that our kids will learn to be grateful, and to express her sense of gratitude if we get them in the habit of saying it. But is that really how we learn to be thankful?
I am not saying we shouldn’t teach kids to get into the habit of saying please and thank you but more that we need to not forget that the real way children learn is from examples in their lives. Making sure that we show them respect and thank them when they do something that we have asked them to do is more likely to influence them to do the same for others.
So what are your thoughts on the subject?