Manners: the way we say words

word of month character

Have you ever noticed that the word please and thank,  sometimes come out of mouths almost like “well I have to say it” sort of attitude.  In fact in our efforts to teach ‘manners’ to our children they may say it just to please us parents, without the spirit of the words behind them.  On the other side of that, children may begin to believe that the word “please” is indeed a ‘magic’ word that will work for anything that they want.  (As parents sometimes we tell them that)

No wonder they soon start using it as a magic word.  It goes something like this.  We are in a store and they see a toy that they really want and they ask for it.  “Mom will you buy this toy for me?”  and just as quickly out of our mouths comes the words ” No, not today.”  Suddenly they remember that you told them “What’s the magic word?”  one time and so they try it.  “Please can you buy it for me? Please, Please, Please, Please….” until we cannot deal with it any more and we as parents do one of two things.  We either get angry and snap at them or we give in and buy it for them.

I told a group of students the other day, that this was disrepectful of their parents and that “”Please” does not trump the word NO”.  When a child begins to believe that the word please is a magic word instead of being a word that we use to show respect for the other person they may begin demanding with it.  Yes the way we say something, or the way we use our words, is just as important as what we say. What a child is saying to a parent in effect is – I don’t believe that your word NO is what you really mean and if I say magic words enough or strong enough, you will give in and I will get what I want. 

As we teach our children about manners it is really the ultimate form of empathy, a characteristic we have talked about before.  The use of the words please, thank you, your welcome, are all ways of being considerate, respectful and kind to each other.