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Do your kids know the power of 'please' and 'thank you'?


Manners in children

Manners in children

Manners in children

Nothing pleases me more than a well-mannered child.

Call me old-fashioned or uptight, but don't undermine your child by underestimating the power of politeness. A well-placed "please" can leave a lasting impression and has the power to determine how others perceive your child - which can be bad news if they're taking a break from using manners.

I can't be the only parent whose kids take occasional manners sabbaticals, forsaking their Ps & Qs altogether.

Recently the middle child abandoned his completely, making me resort to hard-ball tactics to get him back on track.

A simple request - "Can I have some milk, Mum?" - was met with a blunt "No". His look of perplexity was generally followed by a "Why not? I'm thirsty". To which he'd be reminded that he'd forgotten to use the magic word.


Once "please" was uttered the milk would be poured, but I'd keep my hand on the glass until he remembered to say thank you. Initially I gave him clues, but the following week he was warned that he only had one chance to use it or lose it.

If he forgot his manners first time around his request would simply be refused, no matter how reasonable it was.

It might seem mean to refuse a child a drink or to lift down a toy from a high shelf, but it sure is one way to get their attention. Within three weeks I had him back on track, almost outdoing his super-polite younger sister.

I breathed a sigh of relief, sensing it was safe to release him back into the wild again, ready to make the right impression on his next play date.

Judge me if you will, but I genuinely care what adults think of my kids, especially those I respect. I'm not a fan of rude children and I'd hate mine to ever appear as such.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'd never dismiss a kid who has an off-day in the manners department, but I do love when my children bring home polite pals on play dates. Simple phrases such as "excuse me" and "please may I have?" will score serious brownie points in my house.

I may be easily impressed, but who doesn't love a good mannerly influence around their offspring?

Given my own experiences, I recognise that tardiness in the manners department doesn't necessarily mean a child is rude. Having watched my Senior Infant completely abandon his manners this year, I know that apathy isn't a true reflection of a home environment.

Ditto my eldest who rarely thanks his coaches after training unless I prompt him to do so.

It's awful watching him slope off silently, but my constant reminders are slowly beginning to net outbursts of gratitude.

While I'd like to believe every parent teaches their child the importance of manners, I only have to stand in line at the shop to see that this isn't the case.

"Please" and "thank you" may seem like rudimentary words, but not everyone seems to place the same value on them.

And what about a good old-fashioned "pardon"? Several generations of kids out there seem to think "what?" is the best way to ask someone to repeat themselves. Gosh, I'm beginning to sound a lot like my mother. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.