Manners...this is always a bite your tongue scenario for me. I am going against the norm on this one and do not coax Reece to say “please”, “thank you” or “sorry”.
It is a strange sensation to be in when you know someone is waiting for you to say “say hi Reece” or “don’t forget to say thank you Reece”, but I just can’t do it. Every time I see this play out in real life with other children, I see a child say the words, but I often do not see a child mean the words or understand why he or she is saying them. If there is no meaning, no feeling and no understanding of why the words are being said, do they really mean anything? I say no.
But you say how will our children learn their manners? How will our children know to say “please”, “thank you”, “I’m sorry” or “excuse me”. Well, pretty simply actually, as parents and as adults we should model the behaviour we expect from our children and in doing so our children are able to observe how the words are used, in what context and believe it or not, will one day use the words themselves. And when they do, it will because they mean it, not because they have been coaxed to say it.
In the last few months, after almost three years of modeling, Reece has been squeezing in “please”, “thank you” and even “you’re welcome” in conversation with us. And I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart when he says these words.
As parents, we have made an effort to say please and thank you to each other and as much as we can to people we see outside of our home – the person who holds the door for us, the grocery store clerk, and the post lady who drops our mail off every day, and so on. Reece has been witness to these behaviours from the start and is now gaining an understanding of what they mean and how to use them.
For the most part, at the moment, he uses these words at home only. He did say “thank you” to his nana for the first time a few weeks ago. I don’t think my mom noticed, but Justin and I sure did. When we got in the car to drive home, we asked Reece if he noticed how it made him feel and how he thought it made his nana feel. His response to both questions was “good”.
So, if you run into us somewhere, don’t expect Reece to say “hi” but know if he does, he really means it.