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The Beginning of Discipline Is Teaching Your Children to Say "Please" and "Thank You"


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, exploring the adventure that is marriage for more than three decades, and being both a worker bee and on occasion 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?


It's Simple

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. 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 principles will carry a young person a long way towards learning to respect those in authority instead of resenting 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 principle 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 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 principles 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."


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on July 27, 2017:

I see this hub is being read again. It's funny. I recently heard a niece of mine say she was raising her children in a democracy where everyone in the home had an equal vote. I don't want to be anywhere nearby when those kids become teenagers!

Children get their security knowing adults are taking care of issues that are beyond their ability. The best thing a parent can do for a child of almost any age is set boundaries. I've learned this is even true of adult children. In those cases, the boundaries are limits beyond which they are on their own.

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on June 29, 2016:

moonlake: Those are the days parents live for! We also taught our kids to answer the phone professionally in case their dad's commanding officer called. They also took turns saying Grace before dinner. One night it was my daughter's turn and she instinctively said, "This is Amber Smith. Who's calling please?" We never let her forget it!

moonlake from America on June 29, 2016:

I had a neighbor boy like Eddie Haskill. I always hated nasty mouthed kids on the phone. One kid I knew would answer the phone with "what do you want."

We taught our kids to say our name and to ask the person on the other end who they would like to speak to. Just so they answered the phone with respect. One day when I took the phone the man on the other end told me how nice my child was and such nice manners. Made me proud.

Enjoyed your great advice.

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on June 28, 2016:

Eddie Haskill - a good lesson to an entire generation. Where are characters like that in our society today (besides Congress)? Very insightful RT!

RTalloni on June 28, 2016:

Highlighting this topic in a hub is a worthy effort! The need for children to learn to express themselves politely is so important for their futures, for family peacefulness, and for society in general. If all the little bullies in the world learned to care about others and put them first in social interactions they would have a better chance of not growing up to be big bullies. Your closing warning is also important. An example that came to mind was the nasty character in the Leave it to Beaver show who was so polite to grown ups on the outside but seething with disrespect on the inside.

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on March 28, 2016:

Good ideas to add to basic manners. Thanks Paula!

Suzie from Carson City on March 28, 2016:

Excellent advice to parents of young children, Kathleen. Yes, PLEASE let's teach our little darlings "manners." The very basic in socialization, so very important for them to learn. That this is ingrained in these little ones so as to be their natural, automatic response.

Another lesson I see as something to work at is teaching small kids (who are antsy & demanding as can be expected) to be patient and try to wait their turn to speak. I still recall going over the "Excuse me please," a dozen times a day when children will simply settle for no less than our undivided attention and answer to their questions....Bless their hearts. Of course it's a difficult lesson in appropriate manners for a child to grasp. It's worthwhile to hang in there until they can understand.

Thanks for this must read, Kathleen. Peace, Paula

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on August 05, 2014:

JeniferRW: Welcome to my hubs. This is a good one to start with - I raised three children to adulthood and now have two grandchildren. I'm not always right about raising children, but I'm experienced!

Jen from Couch on August 04, 2014:

Love this hub, great job! Very very true.

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on April 23, 2014:

It also teaches them to respect authority, which helps eliminate a lot of the other problems. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Jaye!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on April 22, 2014:

This is such an important topic, Kathleen. In a time when too many kids (from grade school on up) show little or no respect for others, bullying is rampant, and even worse actions are taken by youth toward others, the need to begin teaching children respect and courtesy can't begin too young.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that " is far better to be the person who must be on guard against being exploited than to be the one doing the exploiting." Parents and other significant people in young children's lives must realize how critical it is to not only teach them to respect others, but set good examples for them to witness and emulate.

Voted Up++ and shared


Jennifer from New Jersey on August 07, 2013:

Yes, it indeed Kathleen. It's amazing that you picked up on it! I think when one chooses to embrace all their blessings, and let go of all the rest....good things follow!

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on August 07, 2013:

Theater girl: Thank you for your encouragement and your enthusiasm. I've enjoyed your comments in the past few days. Is something wonderful going on in your life? You are exuding joy.

Jennifer from New Jersey on August 06, 2013:

Very excellent! And so simple ! I think that everyone should read this. Respectful human beings, respect themselves and each other. Goes a long way to helping then in life!

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on March 09, 2012:

Thanks Tiffany - best of luck with your brood.

TiffanyTWeber from Washington D.C. on March 09, 2012:

Those are the two words we emphasized the most when traveling and the ones we made sure to learn correctly before visiting a new country. Little words make a big difference. Great hub!

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on March 01, 2012:

Welcome Perspycacious. There has got to be a story to your name! Would love to hear it.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on March 01, 2012:

Loyalty is earned, which makes it even more appreciated when it is given. Thank you very much. Please keep writing great hubs, and if you liked my comment, you're welcome.

Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on February 29, 2012:

Your welcome. Thanks for reading through my hubs. Loyalty is appreciated.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on February 29, 2012:

Excellent Hub....Please, thank you, and your welcome. With proper explanations and usage, those three phrases really are the central pillar of raising grateful and respectful children and thoughtful and decent citizens. BTW, Thank you.