Teaching Kids to Say Please
How do you get kids to consistently say please? Teaching kids to say please is something that I believe is very important. It shows respect. Without a please, people sound demanding and entitled. So, how do we get the polite behavior we want to see? Some people would say that respectful behavior and polite ways are lost among the next generation. I’m determined to be one of the parents who stands up and says, “Not on my watch.” We need to raise kids that raise the bar and change the standard of the next generations. I believe there is hope based on many of the parents I am privileged to know. My kids have been off and on with the please and thank you thing, and it really is determined by how consistent I am. There are a few ways that I’m teaching my kids to be more consistent with their polite words.
Model It – “Do as I say, not as I do,” does not work in life. You’ll never capture your children’s hearts if you are a hypocrite. Practice saying please and thank you in your own life. I try and be polite when talking to others, but I also do it with my kids. I want my children seeing me use my own nice words as I ask them to do things for me. It needs to become a part of who you are. You might be interested in my post about changing your, “No!” to “No, Thank you.”
*** The Five Minute Timer Trick – This is a parenting tip I learned from my good friends, The Pritchards, parents of 11 children. I’d love for you to check out their site for all sorts of wisdom. They gave me the idea to set a timer for five minutes if there is no please. The kids can ask again for what they want after waiting 5 minutes. We were super consistent with this in the beginning and have recently started the rule again since the kids were falling into some bad habits. The kids are super responsive to this technique. It feels a bit like a game to them. Part of thank you and please are creating good habits, and this practice helps build those habits.
Try Again – Another phrase I use with my kids is, “try again.” When they are fairly consistent with saying please and thank you, I may just do a gentle reminder rather than making them wait the full five minutes. The five minute trick for me is when they have really fallen into bad habits. “Try again” is always a go-to with the occasional behavioral slip. I’m learning that raising kids doesn’t mean behavior change overnight. It takes a lot of reminders and a lot of patience to get the results we are looking for.
Never Reward Rude – In our family, we never reward rude. When there are demands, disobedience or fits, the answer is always no. Kids need to learn that they do not get what they want in life by being rude. People respond better to people that are polite and kind. You can still be assertive and strong while having a pleasant nature.
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency – If you want your kids to be consistent, you have to be consistent too. You’ll need to stay on top of these things. I know it is exhausting! I expected more immediate behavior. Surely I don’t need to say the same thing over and over again. I have found out that you do. I have discovered this not just through experience but talking to moms with a lot more experience and older kids. It takes consistency, patience and time to get the behavior you want. It’s a marathon.
I hope this gives you some tools to tackle the “say please and thank you” teaching. We really rely on the five minute timer when the habit needs to be formed. Will you be one of the moms who stands up with me to say, “We will raise up a respectful and polite generation.”