Ask Jane: How do I teach my child to say “Please” and “Thank you?”

 

Editor’s note: Jane Greminger is the director of Nokomis Child Care Centers in Fargo. Nokomis is part of The Village Family Service Center.


Q: How do I teach my child to say “Please” and “Thank you?”

A: As parents and caregivers, it’s important to encourage our children to use good manners. Saying “please” and “thank you” are social courtesies necessary to use throughout one’s lifetime.

Starting early to teach our children good manners will provide the most positive results. Children learn best by modeling the behavior we want them to follow. For instance, when you ask your children to pick up their toys, set a good example by saying “please.” When they follow through on your request, say “thank you.” The behaviors you model will help your children develop a positive habit of using nice manners.

Celebrate your child’s efforts for using their manners and be generous with your words of praise. Show approval when they comply. This will boost their self-esteem and show them that compliance will bring emotional rewards.

Remember that very young children won’t always remember to say “please” and “thank you.” When they forget, it is best to encourage them with a gentle reminder, rather than scolding them. If your child asks for something without saying please, simply say in a pleasant tone, “When you say please I’ll be glad to give you some juice,” or “I think you mean: Please, may I have some juice?” Most children will respond to this approach.

Saying “thank you” does not usually come as easy for children as saying “please,” because their attention shifts once they get what they want. Each time your child forgets to say “thank you,” remind them. They’ll eventually become used to saying it, and they’ll learn that others are more likely to grant their wishes when they use nice manners.

Have realistic expectations for your children. Developing good manners will take time. Continue to be a good role model for your child and you’ll recognize just how much they learn from how you act and what you say. Be consistent and try not to let any opportunities pass by to be polite and courteous.


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