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Giving Children Directions: Using Please and Thank You

Updated on April 3, 2013

Please and Thank You Shows Respect

If we practice saying please with our kids we kill two birds with one stone. First, our children will be far more likely to comply with our requests and second, we are modeling appropriate respect and manners for them. Saying please helps take down the barrier that sometimes builds between parents and kids. Kids can become resentful if they feel they are always being bossed around. When we say please it becomes more of a request and less of a command. If we practice inserting please into our requests we will quickly notice a difference in the response of our children. They may not always comply but they will be far less likely to respond with negativity and resentment.

Please and thank you does not undermine parental authority

Saying please and thank you in no way lessens a parent’s authority. In fact, the reality is that the role of parent as leader is strengthened if a parent is able to show a high level of respect to their children. Like any directive, parents need to ask for what they want from their children in a firm and confident manner. The way we say things to our children is often as important as the words we choose. If a parent says please but does so in a whining or pleading way, the child will be getting the wrong message. In the parents says please but does so sarcastically or in an aggressive manner, children will respond more to the parents tone than the words they are using. A firm but non-threatening tone of voice and confident body language tell our children we respect them and we know what we are doing.

Parents as strong leaders

Parents need to show they are strong leaders without being bullies. Imagine you are in a work situation and your boss asks you to perform a task. Everyone knows who the boss is and that they have supervisory authority. However, think how differently you would respond to a boss who demands you do the task versus the one who says please when they ask you to perform the task. Who would you rather work for? The boss who says please is simply showing respect for the employee and in reality appears to be a more respectful leader and role model than the boss who demands compliance just because they are in a position of power. In fact many of us would feel resentful toward the demanding boss, while appreciating the respect shown to us by the boss who had the confidence and respectfulness to say please.

Good manners help show appreciation

There may be some individuals in our culture who think using good manners is for upper class snobs and fussy old people but the truth is manners are simply a way of showing respect. Can anyone truly say there is anything wrong with saying please or thank you? It’s a good idea to model this for our children as often as we can in as many situations as possible. Most parents I know really appreciate it when their children bring home friends who have the simple courtesy to use please and thank you and you’re welcome. As parents we often ask our kids to use their manners. It is always much easier to do this when they regularly see us using ours, especially when we are doing it with them.

Please and thank you seem to be getting used less and less in our culture yet when we do hear those words we feel more respected and it also reassures us that some people still care about respecting others. These days. we also often hear people say yup instead of your welcome. Good manners are part of a ritual that allows individuals to interact in a way that allows them to feel respected and appreciated. Sometimes one person may be more genuine in their use of the words than others but hearing please is always better than feeling like you are being given a command.

Using please and thank you is good role modeling

People are obviously often very busy these days. In our hectic daily lives we often have very quick cursory interactions with people. In some ways this can be a little dehumanizing. For example, people on the go often quickly stop at a drive through window for something to eat. It is easy when we sit in our car to be distracted and forget we are interacting with other people in situations like this. Often they are young people. If we make it a point of respecting these young people by using please and thank you, they will appreciate it. It helps to at least add a human touch to a limited human interaction.

Respect and dignity

If we as parents tend to appreciate the people around us who have the common courtesy to use manners, then our children are just as likely to appreciate being given the same courtesy. They feel they are being treated with respect and dignity. This is simply good role modeling. If you think that many young people are less respectful than they were when you were young, then make sure to at least respect them. It is hard to complain about how disrespectful people are if we model the same behavior. Good role modeling means using please and thank you with our children and it is a great way to maintain the good habit of respect in our homes. It helps us maintain a calm and reasonable demeanor and to help cut down in unwanted behavior like yelling and reprimanding.


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    • TPSicotte profile image

      TPSicotte 6 years ago from The Great White North

      Thank You

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Good advice.