Teaching "Please" and "Thank You" to Children
Year After Year
With so much written year after year on the best ways to raise children, I can't resist the urge to lend my own voice to the conversation. After raising three children of my own to adulthood, exploring the adventure that is marriage for more than three decades, and both being a worker bee and on occasion being the boss in the jungle out there, all I really have to say is this: "Please" and "Thank You".
Please and Thank You. If you will teach your child to use these words on a regular basis you will go a long way towards raising children who will contribute to our society and save their parents a great deal of heartache. How can you accomplish so much good for a child with such simple words? Because your child will not only learn these words, they will learn respect for authority and gratitude. How many problems in life would be solved if growing children and adults learned and demonstrated these two qualities?
From the earliest days, whether the baby can say the words or not, ask her to say "please" if she wants to be given something. Ask him to say "thank you" whenever he receives something. (The use of those different pronouns is to emphasize the effect is the same for boys and girls.) They will learn you don't just demand things. You ask politely. And you don't assume you'll just get what you want. You are grateful for the things and the actions you receive from other people. These simple principals will carry a young person a long way towards learning to respect those in authority instead of resenting them or ignoring their position over them. Think how this respect will change their experience through their school years, through their interaction with their parents during the child's teens, and through their experience answering to a boss in the workplace. And the principal of gratitude for what you receive instead of taking it for granted will shape their personality throughout their lives, not only at school and in the workplace, but in their personal relationships as well. How many marriages would be saved from divorce court if the two parties regularly said these words to each other? How much prejudice and intolerance would dissipate in our society if we said these words to everyone we met, regardless of their political party, their sexual orientation, their race, religion or gender?
Please and Thank You. As the years go by parents will need to share with their children the unfortunate fact that there are more than a few people in the world who would exploit their respect and gratitude, not if, but whenever given the chance. Young people who have been raised on these principals will have to be warned, at some point, not to let such people take advantage of them. Because they will. But I believe it is far better to be the person who must be on guard against being exploited than to be the one doing the exploiting. There are enough of those in this world. We don't need to be raising any more of them.
Please and Thank You.
You might also throw in "You're welcome."