Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Say Please

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


When Luke was a baby, while I was reading a lot of natural parenting blogs and books, I remember reading that kids learn better by action.  I know I always did.  I learn by watching others, and then I follow what they do.  A natural social cue that almost all humans do and probably with out realizing.

Can I have the rock please?
As my son approached the age where he was understanding what we say and observing how we socialize, I decided that's how I wanted him to learn.  Everyone's heard parents say to their kids 'Say hi' or 'Say thank you' or 'Say please first'.

I always wondered why I'd need to force him to do it.  Especially the 'say please' before I give you something.  I felt that forcing manners on someone wasn't very productive.  As he got older he'd do it just because I made him, not because he thought that's how people ask for things.

My husband and I decided to make a conscious effort to always say please and thank you to each other.  (which was good for us too ;) )  We worked at it, but we still don't do it all the time.  We also said please and thank you when asking him for something like saying please and thank you when playing with Luke.  'Can I see that toy please?'  Always trying to remember that play time could also be learning manners time.
Water Please Mama!

Fast forward about a year, while at breakfast, he says 'Water, please, Mama'.  I was taken back.  I had totally forgotten about how we got in our habit of please and thank you.  I realized, I had never been saying, 'say please before water'.  I had just been doing what we had been doing.  Soon after the 'please' (more like pwweeese) came the 'thank you's'.  Again, just by surprise one day.

I really think this is the best way a child can learn how to socialize.  He's not learning by force, he's learning by what he sees everyone else do.  We still are working towards him saying please and thank you to others, since he's going through a shy phase.  And we do slip up sometimes, I've caught myself doing the 'say hi', 'say bye', 'say please' etc.  But it's a constant reminder for me to remember that actions speak louder than words.

How do you teach your little ones social cues by action or playing?


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Sherrill S Cannon said...

It’s important to learn good manners early and I think it’s wonderful that you are teaching your children good manners and to say Please and Thank You. As a former teacher and grandmother of nine, I offer the following suggestion. A children's book emphasizing good manners is The Magic Word by Sherrill S. Cannon. In a society full of bullying and self-centered children, it is helpful to teach your children the benefits of consideration for others and being polite. This book is a rhyming story of a little girl who was rude, selfish and demanding – and had very few friends. Her mother suggested that she needed to improve her manners; so when she went to school the next day, she thought of her mother’s advice, “What is the magic word?” and she started saying “Please” and also “Thank You”. She tried to become more thoughtful of others, and discovered that she was a much happier person. The repetitive use of the phrase “What is the magic word?” has children answering “Please”! (and Thank You! for reading this comment)

nikalee said...

I agree that teaching through example, especially things like manners, is most effective. I think reading amusing children's books, where the characters model good manner, but the manners are not the center of the story, is as effective as reading a book that centers on please and thank you. Following our example, our children have learned to be very informal at home, but to use those words when in other company. I used to be more adamant about please and thank you. At some point I realized that the please was implied in a polite "would you do x?" vs a demanding "get me x!" and that that shy little smile is a way of saying thank you. I don't need a child to verbalize it to know that. It actually bothers me now when I hear parents/care-givers tell a child "say please," including myself on the rare occasion it slips out of my mouth.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I also try not to prompt for manners, though sometimes I also slip up, particularly around people I think are waiting for the "magic words" (like my mom, heh). What I really need to work on, and congratulate you on doing, is saying "please" (this one especially) and "thank you" to my partner (though I do like Nikalee's point that it's often implied in the polite tone & wording we use). How can Mikko & Alrik learn that's what's expected if it's not what we do in front of them?

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

We are on the same wavelength :) That's exactly what we've done with Kieran, and while I have been known to whisper "say thank you" when a random person does something nice and Kieran gets so excited that he forgets, normally it's not necessary ;)

Alicia said...

I am guilty of requesting it sometimes, but most of the time I try to lead by example for manners. They learn so much by watching us! Great post :)

Isil said...

I agree that the best way to teach a child something is being a role-model. This way it comes from within, not because they are supposed to do so. It always disturbs me when people prompt one or two year olds to say thank you, they are only so small. Like you, I believe they will do so when they see and learn.

teresa said...

I agree with you here. We discovered that we naturally said please and thank you by noticing that our daughter just naturally says it. She'll say it even when she's digging her heals in and not doing as we wish. She'll say, "no thank you" when I ask her to do something. Hard not to laugh.
Isn't it nice to know we don't have to nag them?

Cassie said...

Sherril- I would like my son to be considerate of others. That's probably something I should have added in there. Now that he's older, I try to explain why we say please. Or with other things, so he understands that it's just a considerate. But I don't want to force him because I want him to genuinely mean it.

Nikalee- That's a good idea, more informal at home. Because, like you said, I want him to treat others, like grandparents with respect and using nice tone! I don't worry too much about it here at home because I'll be honest, my husband and I forget too so it's only natural not to do it ALL the time.

Lauren- yeah we need to work on it too. We did it better in the beginning. After writting this I noticed how we've kinda forgot :P

Dionna and Alicia- I do that too. It's like so ingrained in my head to say 'say thanks'.

Isil- You are right on, it comes from with in. It's crazy to request a two year old to say please and thank you with every single sentence.

Teresa- LOL. I like the no thank you. I wonder what i'll say to that!

Lisa C said...

I thought you were going to talk about how you play with your kids! Because I know you do it a lot--the new pic on your sidebar shows it all.

Anyway, this is a good topic. I don't like how Phillip requires Michael to stay please. I'm worried that one of these days Michael is going to want something and then expect he gets it just because he said please. I think forcing it undermines learning social cues naturally. He was doing just fine before Phillip started pushing it. But, he isn't too harsh. Personally, I just ask Michael to ask nicely, I don't care if there is a please in there or not, as long as he is polite about it. And that's what I do with him. I am almost always polite to him (unless I'm having a really bad day, lol).

Amyables said...

I do catch myself prompting Abbey to use manners every so often. . . it's important to learn grace and courtesy. . . but it's even more important to respect our children's childhoods, and not overwhelm them with how they "should" behave and make them feel as if their personalities are less than perfect. Instead, like you wrote about, it is by example that children learn, and we have to serve as good models for them!

EcoGrrl said...

I love how you are leading by example. I was always forced to say I was sorry, etc., with no meaning because it was forced. I'm not a fan of 'magic words' - it's the same thing as saying 'say please'and insinuates that just because they are polite they'll get what they want, which we don't want to encourage. Thank you for a great post. (wandered over from five seed!)

Gaby @ Tmuffin said...

Stopping by from the CarNatPar...This is such a great reminder. I prompt Baby T to say please a lot, and I model how to ask for things without whining: (put on singsongy, nonwhiny voice here) "Can I have some juice please, mama?" But sometimes I am afraid he got thhe whiny voice from me. I have to be careful of my own voice when I ask for things or complain about something.

Janice said...

Love your post and how your story demonstrates how actions speak louder than words. DH and I do model saying "Please" and "Thank You" all of the time -- with each other and Moses and those around us. We like to hear it ourselves. And we are told all of the time that Moses is such a polite boy.

I have to admit though, that sometimes we also ask Moses to "say the magic word"...

Bert said...

Why is it so important to know the magic words? Because of a formality? People can say "thank you" and "please" and still be a jerk! Why do we put so much emphasis on these "words" rather than on the actions?
What would people do if we reminded them that they have not said the "magic words" in order for us to do something or give them something in return? Why do we need the warm feeling that the words "Thank you" and "Please" give us?