So when do you spend the energy enforcing ‘please’ and ‘thank you’? Did you know it is average for a child to say ‘thank you’, when appropriate, between 3 years and 4 months and 4 years and 4 months? And ‘please’ with a reminder between these ages…
That’s much later than when most parents start modelling (or expecting) these words and yes, of course your child needs to hear these words in context long before they will understand and then use them.
But consider this, when your child is two years of age, they are still using their brain power to get a few words together. Sure, you can enforce that ‘please’ or ‘thankyou’ or you could model an extra word in their sentence that they will be able to understand at that time. Or just not worry about ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for awhile. Kids have a lot to learn before manners!
You see, the only reason we actually use ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’ is to be polite to the other person. This involves understanding the people and scenarios in which we need to be polite and understanding why we need to be polite. Being polite involves taking the other person’s viewpoint – that they will feel ‘better’ and be more willing to help us if we use a nice word.
So if you can explain the above paragraph to your two-year-old and they get it………. Well I can safely say they won’t! But not to say you can’t start modelling it here and there, for them to see how you use it.
it’s okay for no ‘thanks’!
Let’s look at both words.
Please – “I am asking you to do something and realise it’s a bit of an ask (but hang on the world revolves around yourself when you are a toddler, so they are not actually thinking of you!), so therefore I’ll remember to tack on that word”.
Thank you – “You have just done something for me which is out of the ordinary..” (but hang on, what is out of the ordinary?). Something to think about – how does a young child decide when you need to be thanked. Yes for giving them their lunch, but not for running the bath or flushing the toilet for them?
It’s a funny concept, the more you think about it!
Here is an example of replacing expecting ‘please’ with modelling a different word:
2yo Child: ‘biscuits’
Mum: ‘biscuits please‘
Child: repeats ‘biscuits please’ – what Mum has said, but doesn’t really know what on earth ‘please’ means and therefore is very unlikely to use it themselves next time!
2yo Child: ‘biscuits’
Mum: ‘Max want biscuits’ or just ‘want biscuits’ or ‘biscuits Mummy’ (still using a social word, but one that will relate more to them)
Child: will repeat when their brain has the language skills to use the words you have modelled. If they don’t repeat it, don’t worry, they are still learning to understand your model. That is OKAY!!
So PLEEEEEASE do yourself and your child a favour and give them a bit of a break on the manners – let us inspire you with other ways to engage your child until they are more ready to understand the concept!
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