Kids & Company Blog

5 Ways to Encourage Our Children to Say Please and Thank You

Teaching the basics of good manners can be a tricky and difficult job with children. It can feel like no matter how many times you encourage them, it just doesn’t stick. We believe teaching kids to say please and thank you is very important because it shows the people we are interacting with that we respect and appreciate them. It takes consistency and modelling good behaviour to make these words second nature to children, but it is so worth it in the long run. So, how do we work these polite words into our children’s everyday vocabulary? Here are 5 tips and tricks we use with our youngest children.

1. Be a Good Role Model

We find one of the best ways to encourage our children to say please and thank you is by doing it ourselves. We should be using these words in our daily interactions so our children can see how and when to use them.  As we share toys, go to restaurants, toss a ball on the playground, or practice yoga poses, we should be saying please and thank you to encourage our children to be kind and polite. They will learn the best from watching and listening to us. 

2. Use Sign Language

In our Kids & Company centres, we practice sign language every week to teach our children an alternate way to express themselves while they are learning how to speak. We’ve found sign language greatly helps to reduce frustration levels in young children because they will still have an effective way to communicate how they feel or what they need. Encouraging them to sign "please" and "thank you" are two of our most commonly taught signs with our infants and toddlers at our centres. We encourage them to add the sign for please whenever they want something and the sign for thank you whenever they receive it. The key thing to remember here is to be patient. They most likely won't get it on the first try or even the fifth try. It takes patience and practice, but eventually, they will learn, making it easier for everyone. To teach your children how to use sign language for please and thank you, we have provided a video demonstration. Enjoy!

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3. "Try Again"

Children have a harder time controlling their emotions and often forget to be polite in times of stress or excitement. When a child forgets to add please to a request or rudely demands something from another, we ask them to "try again" using their polite words. Often, this is all it takes for them to remember, and soon enough, we won't need to prompt them again.

4. Be Consistent

As adults, it has become a habit for us to use please and thank you in our vocabulary. In order for our children to also develop these same habits, they need to hear these words at home, at school, at child care, and even on the playground.  Sometimes children will consistently use their manners, then “forget” when they reach a new stage of development. Once again, the key is to have patience and encourage the behaviour you want, over and over (and over).

5. Give Positive Reinforcement

Giving positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative reinforcement in this situation. If we praise them for using their manners and being polite, it will encourage and motivate them to continue the behaviour. When our children are learning, we want to be as positive as possible so they can continue in their development. If we punish our children for not using please and thank you, they will get discouraged and frustrated. Instead, let's focus on the behaviour that is good, and over-praise if you have to. 

What about your home? What are some techniques you use to teach and reinforce good manners? Let us know in the comments below!

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