Making Polite Requests
Do you get tired of hearing demands from your kids? Do you dream of the day they'll say "please" and "thank you"?
We'll look at ways you can increase polite requests in your home.
Politeness as Respect
It's wise to wonder whether teaching children how to use polite requests is worth the trouble. Dr. Glen Latham admonishes parents that some behaviors just need to be ignored (51).
A Teacher's Perspective
"Please" and "thank you" may or may not feel important at home, but those outside the home often notice a child who is conversant in making polite requests.
A preschool teacher sends home this poem with her students each year:
Making it Happen
BYU researchers teach that learning new skills, like saying "please," will come through doing rather than lecturing (Young et at. 13-14). The following steps can be helpful when teaching a child a new behavior.
"Teach "The Squeeze." Tell your child that if she wants something when you are talking to another adult, she should walk up to you and gently squeeze your arm. You will then squeeze her hand to indicate that you know she is there and will be with her in a minute. At first, respond quickly so your child can see the success of this method. Over time you can wait longer, just give a gentle squeeze every few minutes to remind your child that you remember the request." http://www.allaboutu.ca/reference.htm
One mom thought of this idea to teach her preschooler how to say please. She would "gently withhold" any object until the child remembered to say please. This is one way to create a good habit, and can be used in conjunction with teaching about respect and so on.
Maybe you've been lucky enough to hear your child echo something you say almost verbatim (or should that be "unlucky enough"?). Using respectful requests with your children is one of the best ways to teach them to do the same.
Thank You Notes
Help your children write basic thank you notes at an early age. One mom printed out a photo of each guest at her daughter's birthday party as the daughter opened their present. On the back of the photo she simply had her daughter write, "thank you," and her name. For older children, let them pick out or create thank you notes that fit their personality, and have them on hand for when the occasion arises.
A "may I" or a "please" can go a long way. If you long to hear these words in your home, please feel free to make it happen!
Bahr, Howard M., Scott Loveless, and Ivan F. Beutler. "Love, Respect, and Compassion in Families." Strengthening Our Families: An In-depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family. Ed. David C. Dollahite. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2000. 167-176.
Latham, Glenn I. The Power of Positive Parenting. Logan, UT: P&T Ink, 2006.
Marchant, M. & Young, R. (2005). 3 B's of effective parenting: Be proactive, be positive, and be consistent. Marriage and Families, (Winter), 18-25.
Walker, Ardith. "What First Grade Teachers Wish Parents Would Teach Their Kids." Unpublished article. www.allaboutu.ca/reference.htm
Young, Richard K., Sharon Black, Michelle Marchant, Katherine J. Mitchem, and Richard P. West. "A Teaching Approach to Discipline: An Alternative to Punishment." Marriage & Families, August (2000): 9-15.