A big part of this happiness comes from the simple pleasure of watching her grow and learn and start to really communicate with us. But another huge part of it is that it really is important to me that my children are polite and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
Interestingly though, a study carried out in 2010 by Grant and Gino (published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) found that saying thank you also has a positive effect on the person being thanked. When we say ‘thank you’ to people it can strengthen our relationship with them, let them know that we value what they’ve done for us and, apparently, can also make them more likely to help us again in the future.
In the study a group of participants were asked to give feedback on a cover letter for a job application for a made-up student. When the student then asked for more feedback a day or two later, 66% of the participants agreed when he wrote a ‘thankful’ email, compared to just 32% of participants who agreed when he wrote the request in a ‘neutral’ tone. That’s quite a dramatic increase; seeming to prove that we are in fact much more likely to help people again in the future if they express their gratitude for the things we do for them.
The researchers looked into this further and found that the reason we’re more likely to help those who thank us again is that the ‘thank you’ makes us feel that our help was appreciated, that we’re needed and that it makes us feel more socially valued. It seems that hearing the words ‘thank you’ helps us feel reassured that our help is valued, which in turn motivates us to provide more help in the future.
So, teaching Rhys and Nerys to say ‘thank you’ will have positive effects on them and those that they’re interacting with!
Besides, it’s just the right thing to do isn’t it?! If someone does something for you, or gives you something, it’s just polite to acknowledge it with a thank you. And it does seem to brighten the postman’s day when he hands Rhys our post and gets a very enthusiastic ‘thank you’ back!
Do you agree? Do you think it’s important to teach your children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at an early age? I’d love to know what other people think!