Google+ Authentic Parenting: What are you going to say???

Friday, October 12, 2012

What are you going to say???

Thoughts On Prompting Children to Use Good Manners.


On a Friday, not too long ago, as we left preschool with my four and two year olds, I wished some of the parents a good weekend. I did that three or four times in a row as we walked by other families on our way to the car. Ten minutes later, we arrived at the elementary school to pick up my other son. As we crossed the street my four year old belted out sweetly to the crossing guard “HAVE A NICE WEEKEND!”

It was heartwarming because so often I hear parents urge and demand “Greet her!”, “say thank you!” or prompt their children “what do you say…..?”and the so popular “what are the magic words?” And I can’t help but wonder how that child feels to be prodded, prompted and even at times nagged about using manners. 

What kind of manners are we using when we do that anyways, when we INSIST that our children say thank you, or greet someone? It’s not that polite is it?  Surely there are other ways for children to learn all these socially expected behaviors?  Can you imagine if adults went around prodding and nudging each other to say thank you? 


Is it important for children to learn socially desirable manners – sure! I would like my children to say thank you and to appreciate a nice gesture. I also hope that when they hurt someone they may say sorry. But I would rather it be voluntary, a real sorry, a genuine thank you and not the fake ”SORRY….sigh! All while the child thinks something along the lines of "i only said that because I had to...ugh!"

I cringe every time I feel the social pressure to rush my child and that apology or thank you process along because it’s expected to happen right away. Apologies, sharing, gratitude, these are processes, concepts children can learn naturally.  At home, we try not to force gratitude, sharing or apologies.  We model, wait and try to be understanding. 

The funny thing is, adults really expect children to patiently wait for oodles of things, and yet, how often do we fail to wait for a child to think about their actions, choices or words? 

A “delayed” or rather genuine "Thank You!" or apology somehow is so much sweeter and sincere! Just this past week my six year old randomly went up to handsome hubby and said “Papa, thank you for taking time to play with me last Friday, it was awesome!”  Yes, it was several days later but It was so genuine, so truthful, so very THANKFUL!

A few weeks ago I had written about how what we do and how we do things is often much louder than just the words we are using with our children. I think this is another example. Sure, we can prompt that thank you or that greeting but perhaps instead, remembering that we are our child’s role model is vastly more important than simply insisting they speak up the magic words.

Are you wondering what we do at the park, the store or on a play-date?  That is often a little tricky for us and I will talk about that next week. 

Peace & Be Well, 



Oh, are you forgetting something?? Did you like this post? What are you going to say???

Ariadne Brill is a certified positive discipline parenting educator. She has three children, loves chocolate and is passionate about helping parents and children create harmony at home. Find Ariadne on Facebook and at the positive parenting connection, a resource for gentle and positive parenting. 


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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11 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. I could have written this, not as well, granted. I believe in that a child, given the right modelling, will learn to say please and thank you, appropriately and genuinely, all of their own accord. We say please and thank you to our children, and as a result, our oldest (the youngest isn't verbal yet) will say please and thank you a lot of the time. But oh my goodness it does so bug me when family in particular are the worst culprits, insist on him thanking them straight away for a present, or when they get him a drink or food etc. in public, like at a play group, I will say thank you on his behalf to the parent or child if he forgets. But family insist it come from him! And he does a LOT of the time, but particularly with gifts he's so excited about receiving something nice, that he forgets!

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    1. Nicky thank you for sharing your experience - that excitement over receiving a gift is so wonderful isn't it? I find it to be the best sort of thank you since it's so genuine!!

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  2. Thank You. :)

    Really looking forward to next weeks version as it's when amongst others of different mindsets that the problems can sometimes arise.

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  3. I too cringe when I hear parents demanding their children say please and thank you. I have never demanded this of mine.

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  4. Really interesting topic. For a child, developing a genuine appreciation for who and what is around us takes time. I think this kind of forced “thank you” and “I’m sorry” charade adults expect kids to do stems from gaining approval from other parents –it’s not really about helping the child gain a sense of gratitude. And honestly, I don’t think anyone really enjoys receiving that phrase of disingenuous kindness either! Even as an adult, I’ve heard that forced “I’m sorry” from a co-worker or friend (said like a shamed, prodded child) and I can’t stand it. It’s no way to start an honest, open line of communication.

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    1. Elizabeth - yes how true what you said about receiving that forced apology or thank you from another person...it's just not the same as the real thing! thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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  5. As a child, developing a genuine appreciation for who and what is around us takes time. I think this kind of forced “thank you” and “I’m sorry” charade adults expect kids to do stems from gaining approval from other parents –it’s not really about helping the child gaining a sense of gratitude. And I don’t think anyone really enjoys receiving that phrase of disingenuous kindness either! Even as an adult, I’ve heard that forced “I’m sorry” from a co-worker or friend (said like a shamed child) and I can’t stand it. It’s no way to start an honest, open line of communication.

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  6. I go back and fourth in this one. I thought I'd be the relaxed mum who let it all come naturally. And I certainly don't insist on fake apologies, but I've realised that saying please and thank you, especially with the older generation really greases the wheels. So now I do remind Goblin that we say thank you when we are given something. I hate hearing myself do it, but the sooner goblin gets this social "requirement" the easier his life with other adults will be, so I'm compromising on my original principles. But maybe I'm wrong but to do so. You've given me more food for thought.
    I'm sharing this on the Sunday parenting party pin board

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    1. I'm featuring this post on the Sunday Parenting Party this week.

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