Where O Where Have All The Thank Yous Gone? by Dina Ramon

The other day my daughter’s teacher asked me if I knew that my daughter is the only child in her class who consistently says ‘thank you’ when she is given a cookie or some other treat by a visiting parent or teacher. And because she says ‘thank you’ she gets two of whatever is being handed out. Wow… Really?

Now the point of this retelling is not to brag that my daughter has good manners and is rewarded for that; although I am certainly proud of that as a parent who feels justified that she has done something right. But rather to express dismay and disbelief that out of 20 or so kids in her class, she is the only one who says ‘thank you’ when it is expected and completely appropriate to do so. Unfortunately this is a pattern I have noticed once too often among too many children – they rarely, if ever, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and it is irritating. It’s not that hard to teach, really it’s not.

I’ve had kids grab things of my hands without asking in front of a parent and the parent doesn’t say or do anything. I’ve had kids demand food or drink without asking ‘please’ or ‘may I have…’ And it annoys me every time. Am I being too sensitive? Old-fashioned? Have unreasonable expectations? I don’t think so. Basic manners are part of the foundation of human socialization and developing relationships. It is not something that should be skimped on. Life is stressful enough, let’s try and make it a little more pleasant by imparting our children with simple etiquette that they will hopefully carry into adulthood.

Beginning when my daughter was about 2 or 3 I starting using a couple of methods, tricks, whatever you want to call them, to encourage her use of ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’ And, I still use them from time to time when she acts a little “diva”-like and gives me attitude. One method is that when she asks for something without saying please, I play hard-of-hearing and fail to respond, even put my hand to my ear to suggest that she isn’t speaking loud enough… she gets the message every time. Another one is that when I hand her something she has asked for and she starts to take it from me, I don’t let go if she doesn’t say ‘thank you’ at the same time. The tug of war is always short-lived and she gets it right away. I encourage you to use these on your own kids, the neighbor’s kids, your kids’ friends….

‘Thank you’ and ‘Please’…. They are just two little phrases that are powerful, and that can help our kids – and us – in big ways.

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  1. 2 Responses to “Where O Where Have All The Thank Yous Gone? by Dina Ramon”

  2. As a former teacher and grandmother of nine, I would like to offer the following suggestion. I feel it’s important to learn good manners early. In a society full of bullying and self-centered children, it is helpful to teach your children the benefits of consideration for others and being polite. A book emphasizing good manners as well as the Golden Rule is The Magic Word by Sherrill S. Cannon. This book is a rhyming story of a little girl who was rude, selfish and demanding – and had very few friends. Her mother suggested that she needed to improve her manners; so when she went to school the next day, she thought of her mother’s advice, “What is the magic word?” and she started saying “Please” and also “Thank You”. She tried to become more thoughtful of others, and discovered that she was a much happier person. The repetitive use of the phrase “What is the magic word?” has children answering “Please”! One of the important lines in the story is “If you want to make friends, you must be polite and treat them the way that you know you would like”. That’s what the Golden Rule is all about!

    By Sherrill S Cannon on Jun 1, 2012

  3. I concur with Ms. Cannon. I will make my son get out of the car, if need be, to say thank you to the Mom of a friend when he goes on a playdate. I also stress acknowledging people who have “invisible” jobs, such as the school security gentleman or a clerk who rings up our purchase in a store. Such people deserve recognition as well. I am a tremendous advocate of politeness and respect towards others. I expect my son to learn to be polite and curtious spontaneously. The world needs many more polite and respectful people in it. I want my son to be one of those people.

    By Cara Meyers on Jun 5, 2012