I’m going to start out with two anecdotes:

  1. When my daughter was about two we were out at some sort of kids festival. A clown handed her a balloon dog, and I said to her “What’s the magic word?” and she looked at me quizzically and said “Abbracadabra?”
  2. One day I walked my dog. When we entered the lobby of our building, the doorman gave her a treat. I said to my dog “What do you say?”

Now, what do these things say, other than humor can be found in any situation?

Yes, I’m a bit of a nag, but more importantly, the value I place on saying Please and Thank You.

I have taught my daughter (and obviously dog) that when you want something you say please, and if someone gives you something you say thank you. And you do both with sincerity. Call me old fashioned, call me out of touch, call me a 50’s housewife. I don’t care. My daughter was going to be raised with manners.

When she was three, I bought a set of notecards. When she received birthday presents I let her draw a picture on the card and then I wrote a thank you note. When my daughter learned to write, she was responsible for writing her own thank you note. This was a rule: you were not allowed to use, spend or deposit a gift until the thank you note was written. End of discussion.

At this point in her life, she gives up her seat to people who are older,  Moms with babies, pregnant women, those with crutches or canes, and anyone who appears to need the seat more than she does. She rushes to hold open doors to buildings she is not even entering if she thinks someone is struggling/about to struggle with going in. She doesn’t even think twice about doing these small acts of kindness: she just does them.

When she is in a classroom she treats her teachers with courtesy. She respects the rules of any place she goes. She tries to be considerate of those around her assuming no one is pushing her around. (for the record, when she went off to school I told her- Don’t you ever hit someone. But, if someone hits you, you slap them as hard as you can. I’ll deal with the consequences and back you up as long as I know you were not the aggressor. 12 years in the NYC public school system and we never had to worry about either scenario)  

Now some of you may be thinking derogatory things about her- calling her a goody goody or something like that. But here’s the thing: she knows that there are reasons for rules and orders. She totally gets the meaning of anarchy. And she knows the consequences. And she knows the value of manners and civility.

But she didn’t learn these values on her own. She was taught these values. She was shown these values (I am actually quite well mannered.  But don’t ever provoke me or give me reason to think otherwise)

Children need to be taught how to behave when they are in society. They have to learn what consideration is. This does not mean that they should be a martyr. It means that they need to have a basis that they are not the sun, and that things do not revolve around them. It is possible to have a child with self esteem and self respect who treats others with kindness and consideration. In fact, I’m going to say that if you have no respect for others, you have no respect for yourself.

Teach your children manners, consideration and respect. Then model the behavior. They don’t do what we say: they do what we do.

57 thoughts on “Please and thank You are Not Optional

  1. Amen!! I saw the results of my parenting last summer with my 22-year-old son. We were at the Biltmore House in NC. It was blisteringly hot, but we Floridians were fine. In the gardens, he came across a grandmotherly woman who was having a hard time with the heat. I sauntered up to discover he had her seated in the shade and was fanning her. When I showed up, he had me fan her while he sprinted for a water. I was so incredibly proud of my boy.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Yes! You’ve nurtured a smart and kind kid. I’m reminded of educator Marian Wright Edelman’s quote: “Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.” As for the dog, well . . .

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My son has manners and is a very kind, compassionate and wonderful young man; however, if the rules do not makes sense, are oppressive or he feels he is being forced to fit into a box he does not belong in, he WILL buck the system. I do not consider this disrespect. I consider this someone with the courage to stand up for himself and others. Getting through his growing up years was difficult because of this but I am proud that he is a non-conformist and will make the changes which need to be made in this world along with many in his generation. You are correct, please and thank you are not an option, they are mandatory.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Everyone thinks I am weird because I don’t let my son call adults by just their first name. It is Coach A- or Mr. or Miss. And my son has had to write thank you notes also. I always tell my son I don’t care what the other kids are doing, he knows better and always needs to do the right (polite/kind/helpful) thing. Period. His teachers love him.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love the post.

    My roommate is 50, and he feels the need to teach me (a student in his 20s) manners and courtesy. He hates it when I leave the toilet paper roll on the floor in the washroom, and nags me to put it back on the rack. Unfortunately, I never had a toilet paper rack while growing up–so I’ve developed a bad habit!

    Teaching your daughter manners is worth it’s weight in gold. You may never see the return on your investment–or if you do, you might not think its your doing–but it will be evident in her social relationships, especially when she moves up in the professional world!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My kids were taught manners and my son to this day says that some people react oddly when he says thank you, holds doors and respects others, but as he told someone “if you have a problem with it go talk to my mom”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have an immigrant friend (from a Eastern European country), whose children have lovely manners. Her 11 year old boy took my shopping bags to my car for me without being asked. Her teenage step-son came over as an exchange student one semester at the high school, and had all the girls drooling over him, because he pulled out the girls chairs for them when they sat down in the cafeteria. Nothing beats manners for making a great impression! PS. You might be interested in a book called The Dinner – by Herman Koch – my bookclub just finished it, and although I don’t usually go I did last week as it was such an interesting read/discussion. It’s a 2009 book by a Dutch author, a translation, but so riveting. A pair of 14-15 yr old teenager boys beat up and light a homeless person on fire in an ATM shelter, (based on a true incident in Portugal), and the book deals with the parents willingness to cover up for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Brava!
    My girls were brought up the same as yours! With the addition of the very southern, yes ma’am (or sir).
    People still share with me how kind or polite they find my daughters. And they are grown women residing in different states.
    I applaud you, and her! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Manners-a collective response to inherent respect for the uniqueness of the individual. A society unschooled in the application and reciprocity of social manners will eventually produce citizens incapable of recognizing justice. So yeah…teach your children well! And pray tell, school ’em about… most unique, and very, somewhat, and maybe unique.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I probably came up with the same answer as your daughter when asked that question – my literal mind at work! (But I was much older.)
    I can’t thank you enough for passing on good manners to your daughter. I’ve had too much experience with children whose parents couldn’t be bothered. But it isn’t a universal failure, thank goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Amen! I was the weird teacher who had my students stand when an adult entered the room. (When the boys saw how the pretty young TA’s face lit up when the kids stood for her, I could see the light-bulb go on. – Courtesy attracts girls! Who’d’a thunk it?)
    When my students came into the classroom, they set their books on the tables and stood in their places, boy-girl-boy-girl, and when everyone had arrived, I would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, you may be seated.” The gentlemen would pull out the chairs for the ladies, the ladies would smile and say “Thank you,” and everyone would be seated. Surprisingly, these middle school kids LOVED it!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not in MY classroom!
        (I even say “thank you” to my Alexa/Echo. I know it’s a machine, but I’m afraid if I get out of the habit of saying “thank you” to a machine, I might also get out of the habit of thanking PEOPLE.)

        Liked by 1 person

  12. “when you want something you say please, and if someone gives you something you say thank you. And you do both with sincerity.” Yessss!!! no one does that… why??? I do… I keep asking my son to do the same… but I have to keep reminding him…
    BTW…. it was a great read…
    and.. oww… “I am actually quite well mannered. But don’t ever provoke me or give me reason to think otherwise” loved this too… ’cause I could totally relate 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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