make children please thank you

Why I make my children say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.


Last week we were out at a coffee shop with Steve’s family, and Nerys was being a bit clingy.  She wanted to sit right by me, and didn’t really want to talk to anyone.

Which is fine as far as I’m concerned.  If, for whatever reason, she’s feeling like she needs to be near me more than normal then so be it.  I’ll let her sit with me and not force her to join in with things.

What I will push for though, is her manners.

See, her Nana had a toasted tea cake in the cafe.  And normally Nerys would share this with her.  But on this particular day she didn’t want to say ‘yes please’ when she was asked if she wanted some.

So, for a fair while she went without.

Now, she wasn’t crying about this.  She is just stubborn like me.  And sometimes will chose to cut her nose off to spite her face.

Not the best trait of mine that’s been passed on to her, poor thing.

But the thing is, we all felt quite strongly that she should say ‘please’ if she wanted to be given some tea cake.

She’s nearly 3.  She is more than capable of saying the word.  Or signing it if she really didn’t want to speak!

And, for me, manners are important.

I will make my children say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

Why I make my children say 'please' and 'thank you'.

And it’s the same for my husband.  He has very clear memories of his Grandfather telling him ‘manners maketh the man’, and it’s a saying that has really stuck with him.

We both feel that it’s important for our children to be polite, and to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

To me this is really different from forcing our children to do things like say ‘sorry’ if they upset someone.  Or making them share their things.

Saying ‘sorry’ is an expression of a feeling.  And while I would like my children to say it, I’m not sure how happy I am with forcing them to say it if they don’t actually feel it.

Please and thank you on the other hand, are not expressions of feelings.

It’s such a little thing, but it drives me mad when adults don’t say please or thank you.  It just seems so rude to me, when people don’t acknowledge that you’re doing something nice for them.

I don’t think it belittles my children, to ask them to say please or thank you.  And I will prompt them if they don’t say please when they’re asking for something, or thank you when they’re given something.

My Mum has told me that my siblings and I all managed an “ank-ooh” before we could properly talk.  And both my children were able to sign the word before their speech developed.

I suppose we all have our  things that are particularly important to us as parents.  And this is one of my things.

Oh, and Nerys did get some tea cake in the end.

We reached a compromise, where I asked Nana on her behalf if she could have some, and she said ‘thank you’ when it was given to her.  Not quite what I wanted from her, but it gave her an ‘out’ and still satisfied my desire for her to be polite.

I’m sure some people will wonder why we bothered.  Why we made a ‘thing’ out of it.  Why we didn’t just let it go and give her the tea cake to start with.

Well I’ve always believed that you have to pick your battles when it comes to parenting.  And for us, the battle for manners is one we’re willing to fight.

Do you feel strongly about your children saying please and thank you?  Or is this something that you think will just come with time?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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