Do you use 'please'? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm looking for thoughts on the use of the word 'please' especially with a toddler.

When I want DD to do something I very plainly tell her to do it. For example, 'Pick up your toys'. I don't use please in this circumstance because I don't want to confuse her into thinking she has an option.

Now, when we're pretending I use 'please' a lot to model it. I will also use 'please' when I know she will do what I'm asking.

I just have seen so many parents using 'please' after ever thing they ask their child to do and it seems so over used, the kids stop responding.

Thoughts?

and
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#2 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:14 PM
 
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I use the word please. I don't see it as giving an option, rather making a request polietly. Please help me pick up the toys in the playroom vs. Pick up the toys in the playroom. I also like to be asked please. I can't stand when the kids come up to me with a pile of clothes and say "Dress me" (even with a nice voice). I'd rather hear "please help me get dressed" so I model that too.

Oh, and not that I believe in the spouse analogy for everything, but for this one I can really see it. When dh calls from work and says "pick up milk today" it puts me off and I feel like not doing it just to be difficult. Much different than "please pick up milk today" kwim?

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#3 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RachelEve14 View Post
I use the word please. I don't see it as giving an option, rather making a request polietly. Please help me pick up the toys in the playroom vs. Pick up the toys in the playroom. I also like to be asked please. I can't stand when the kids come up to me with a pile of clothes and say "Dress me" (even with a nice voice). I'd rather hear "please help me get dressed" so I model that too.
I agree with Rachel. I use please whenever I ask for something or for someone to do something. I like to use it at the beginning of the request as well, "DD, would you please bring your cup here?"

I have an aversion to the word please used at the end, as it usually is accompanied with a pause: "Bring that cup here [pause] PLEASE." Almost as if the original command didn't work so I might as well try adding please to see if I can get my way.

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#4 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:24 PM
 
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I see "please" as a polite additive to a direction (or command, if you prefer). It is not an invitation to argue, and it doesn't turn a direction into a question. I don't see "please help me clean up your toys" as different from "help me clean up your toys" except that one is polite and one is not. Neither one is a request, and I'd expect the same response to either. "Please" is very important to me, so I model it at every opportunity. My kids are big on "please" as well as "thank you" and understand that people are much more cheerful about doing what you want them to do when you extend some common courtesy. Courtesy goes both ways, I think.
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#5 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:25 PM
 
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nak
We use "please", too. DS can't say it but we do have him sign it. I also model saying it to him as well. I want him to learn to be courteous and not demand things.

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#6 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:29 PM
 
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I agree with you OP. I feel that using please does make it request-like and therefore confusing. Our requests are still very polite (in my opinion) without tacking on "please".

We have always said, "You may pick up your toys", "You may put away your dishes" etc unless it truly is up to the child (now that he is six a lot of things are requests rather than orders, but as a toddler we used "you may" a whole lot) We always said thank you once it was done.

I use/d please and thank you in my interactions with DS (he hands me something, he does something for me etc) and DH and other people and now he uses both please and thank you and sir and ma'am on his own.

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#7 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:34 PM
 
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We use please too. I don't view it as giving an option but see it as being polite and respectful rather than giving a command. As a pp said, when someone gives me a command without the please it makes me feel resistant and not want to do it too.

On the other hand, the other day dh said, "DS, will you please put this book on the shelf?" And DS said, "Nnnnah" (his equivalent of no)! Phrased that way it is an option, as dh found out!

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#8 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:41 PM
 
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I use please if I'm asking them to do a favor for me. If I'm telling them to do something they need to do I don't.

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#9 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:45 PM
 
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I absolutely use please whenever I can.

There are ways to say please and still be clear it's a requirement not request.

Please pick up your toys.

Please pick your toys up NOW.

vs.

a request would be:

Would you pick up your toys please?

-Angela
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#10 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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I always use please and thank you when speaking to DS because that's how I want to be spoken to. I just think its good manners. Once of twice DS has responded "No" but then I clearly state that my request was not an option.
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#11 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 02:58 PM
 
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As a PP said "you may" works well.
I work pt in a waldorf public school and "you may" is the magic phrase to get the children to follow directions w/o defiance, for the most part... I love it!
I think please is a lovely word when not used by either adults or children to beg for something they want which it seems is how I hear it used most often.
My .02...
Cheers,
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#12 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 03:23 PM
 
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yes. i try to model please and thank-you or use a polite tone. i agree that it depends on "how" you say it. the result in my house varies on whether i asked a question (will you clean your room please?) or made a statement (please clean your room).

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#13 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 03:31 PM
 
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I agree with many of the above; 'please' doesn't turn something into a question. I don't ask "will you...?" I say "please..."

I say it all the time, and so does DD. It's also modeled at school for her, they use "please stop pushing me!"

I don't think it looses effectiveness because I'm not using it to be extra effective. I honestly think when you save "please" as the extra big-gun ask, you're more likely to see the "would you do this? "no" "pleeease??" thing.

In our house, it's just something we say when we feel like it. We don't really make a distinction between "come help" and "please come help" or "pick up your toys" and "please pick up your toys." I usually use "the toys need to be picked up right now" if I really need it urgently.
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#14 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 03:34 PM
 
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I don't have my own children but I use please very frequently with my students/babysitting charges. I also agree that adding it at the end can sound like an afterthought and we definitely don't want our kids saying things like "Give me another cookie.....PLEASE".

So I model it as much as possible. With my students, I tend to use it when I am making requests that are not "commands" but that I'd like to see followed through. However, they are often things that would help me out. Like "It's time to sit at the table" v. "Please help me put the books away". Does that make sense?

I also say "thank you" a lot to the children when they follow my requests or are generally helpful. I never demand that they use the words but find that modeling works very well.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#15 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 03:46 PM
 
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I also use please as a matter of politeness and courtesy, not because whatever it is is optional. IMO, using "OK" at the end of the sentence is more of a setup for that than please (which my DH does sometimes, and it almost always backfires on him :eyeroll). And even if I *do* start the sentence with please and they say no, I'll make sure it gets done with them...I only give options when I'm OK with them picking the options..but that doesn't preclude me beign polite to them the same way I want them to be polite to me. I'd much rather hear, "Please get me some water, mom" than "Get me some water, mom", so I use the word with them the way I'd like them to use it with me.

I have an honest question for the "You may" users...to me, it feels kind of like when I'm on the phone with my husband and he says, "Well, I'l let you go now", when I had not ever mentioned needing to go . I respond to him, "I didn't say I needed to go, but if YOU need to go or want to hang up, that's fine, just say that." It's like a passive way to turn it around on the other person instead of just saying what you mean, or at least that's how it feels to me when he says that (which he says MUCH less to me as they years go on since he knows how much it grates on me). "You may" seems like that same thing to me, like you're giving your child the "privilege" of doing something that they may or may not have had any desire to do, when it is actually what YOU want them to do, KWIM? Can you explain it to me better, how you feel it works with kids? I'd just as soon be straightforward, like, "Please pick up your toys now" or "Time to pick up your toys" or, "I need you to pick up your toys" rather than "You may pick up your toys now". But I find it interestign to read about and made me immediately think of my DH and his family. "Oh, I'll let you finish cleaning that up then." Gee. Thanks. .

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#16 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 03:51 PM
 
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I don't see how "please" has anything to do with options. On airplanes when they say "please buckle your seatbelts when the seatbelt sign is on," they don't mean it's optional, they are just being polite.

"Could you please" sounds like it's giving options, but not "please" on its own.
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#17 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 04:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by The4OfUs View Post
I have an honest question for the "You may" users...to me, it feels kind of like when I'm on the phone with my husband and he says, "Well, I'l let you go now", when I had not ever mentioned needing to go . I respond to him, "I didn't say I needed to go, but if YOU need to go or want to hang up, that's fine, just say that." It's like a passive way to turn it around on the other person instead of just saying what you mean, or at least that's how it feels to me when he says that (which he says MUCH less to me as they years go on since he knows how much it grates on me). "You may" seems like that same thing to me, like you're giving your child the "privilege" of doing something that they may or may not have had any desire to do, when it is actually what YOU want them to do, KWIM? Can you explain it to me better, how you feel it works with kids? I'd just as soon be straightforward, like, "Please pick up your toys now" or "Time to pick up your toys" or, "I need you to pick up your toys" rather than "You may pick up your toys now". But I find it interestign to read about and made me immediately think of my DH and his family. "Oh, I'll let you finish cleaning that up then." Gee. Thanks. .
I can see where you'd wonder about the passive aggressive possibility in using "you may". I had a boyfriend who'd use that same line on the phone w/me as your dh uses w/you and it would make me soooo angry! I can laugh now that he's not in my life, but I too value straightforward communications.
At school w/all of us using "you may" w/the kids so much we sometimes end up using it on each other lol but it doesn't feel passive/aggressive to me at all or I would not use it w/the children. When I hear someone using it w/me I realize that I pause slightly, catching that another adult has used their kid strategy on me and then realize that I'm ok w/whatever they've said "you may" to me about and kinda chuckle to myself and do what they've directed me to do.
We do realize that there is a connotation of privilege in whatever we're "you may-ing", but somehow there's ease w/it that you don't get using other phrases. When people have used it w/me I find myself saying, "oh, ok" not really giving much thought to why I'm doing what they've asked, just getting it done cuz it needs to be done. It's often said calmly, gently, simply. There's nothing to argue or rebel against. I'm not sure how it works, but it's not passive aggressive. Passive Aggressive is one of my biggest pet peaves I do not do it and don't stand for anyone being like that around me. Maybe someone else will have more/better insight about it.
Cheers,
Chelsie

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#18 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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"I'll let you go now" is the official Miss Manners-approved way of saying "I need/ want to get off the phone now," FWIW. She considers it a non-literal statement similar to "How do you do?".
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#19 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 04:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
"I'll let you go now" is the official Miss Manners-approved way of saying "I need/ want to get off the phone now," FWIW. She considers it a non-literal statement similar to "How do you do?".

OMG NO WAY! That's considered polite????? Wow. It doesn't *feel* polite to be on the receivign end of, it feels pretty dismissive, IMO. YOu want to hang up, just say you need to go. I don't get what's rude about that.

Wow.

OK, I HAD to look it up, and sure enough, here it is.

http://books.google.com/books?id=c-c...um=2&ct=result

I have to completely disagree with MM on this one, and agree with the question asker. I disagree with MM that a made up excuse to hang up is needed, just say, "It's been great talking, I have to get going now." :.

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#20 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 04:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by prescottchels View Post
As a PP said "you may" works well.
I work pt in a waldorf public school and "you may" is the magic phrase to get the children to follow directions w/o defiance, for the most part... I love it!
I think please is a lovely word when not used by either adults or children to beg for something they want which it seems is how I hear it used most often.
My .02...
Cheers,
Chelsie
could you elaborate on the use of "you may"?
As in... "you may pick up your toys now..." is that how you use it?

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#21 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 04:39 PM
 
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Well I use please with my DS as I would use it with you. I do not think that is overused and he responds well to it....not to mention, has wonderful manners and is very polite himself without me ever having to make him mimic words like a parrot.

But I guess in our house, as we choose to live consensually - my son does have a choice. If I want him to pick up his toys - please do...why not? Same with if I want my DH to cut the grass - please do...otherwise would be rude I think! Does he have to pick up the toys? - nope... Who wants the toys picked up? - I do! So if he doesnt want to, I better get my arse in gear instead of trying to get other people to always do my bidding! lol...Same with the grass. (and those are just two examples!)

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#22 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 05:25 PM
 
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We use "please" all the time in our household. DD uses it now as well. Modeling works!

Personally I don't think there can be too much courtesy in the world.
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#23 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 05:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BaBaBa View Post
I'm looking for thoughts on the use of the word 'please' especially with a toddler.

When I want DD to do something I very plainly tell her to do it. For example, 'Pick up your toys'. I don't use please in this circumstance because I don't want to confuse her into thinking she has an option.

Now, when we're pretending I use 'please' a lot to model it. I will also use 'please' when I know she will do what I'm asking.

I just have seen so many parents using 'please' after ever thing they ask their child to do and it seems so over used, the kids stop responding.

Thoughts?
I try to say please as much as possible. I think about if someone asked me to do something, how would I respond?

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#24 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 06:04 PM
 
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could you elaborate on the use of "you may"?
As in... "you may pick up your toys now..." is that how you use it?
Yep that's how I use it. I picked it up from a mom friend of mine after desperately trying to get my son to listen to all my "pleases", for whatever reason "You may" gets him to actually follow through with what I am telling him to do, "please" did not go over well with my toddler.

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#25 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 06:07 PM
 
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If it isn't a request, I say, "I need you to pick these things up now, please."

If I have to tell her to do something more than about twice, the word "please" seems to go away. It isn't something I do consciously but she's commented on it. I feel less friendly about it the fourth time I've had to tell her. "This needs to happen now. Did you not hear me?" "You didn't say please this time!" "No, when it's the fourth time, I'm probably not saying 'please' anymore."
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#26 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 07:11 PM
 
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No kids yet, but I routinely use "please" with pretty much everyone I speak to, so I imagine I will with my kids as well.

I've been saying "you may" to myself while reading this thread and it sounds funny to me, even a little imperious. I imagine that if I said that to someone, they would sarcastically reply, "well, thanks, your highness!" But maybe kids could interpret it differently - I guess it falls into the 'don't knock it until you've tried it' category.

FWIW, I've always thought of "I'll let you go now" on the telephone not as passive/agressive but simply as "I've taken up too much of your time, I know you need to get on with your day." Kind of self-deprecating, I guess.

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#27 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 08:02 PM
 
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I'm not clear on how using common polite words when speaking when making a request = making the request/instruction optional.
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#28 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 09:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with you OP. I feel that using please does make it request-like and therefore confusing. Our requests are still very polite (in my opinion) without tacking on "please".

We have always said, "You may pick up your toys", "You may put away your dishes" etc unless it truly is up to the child (now that he is six a lot of things are requests rather than orders, but as a toddler we used "you may" a whole lot) We always said thank you once it was done.

I use/d please and thank you in my interactions with DS (he hands me something, he does something for me etc) and DH and other people and now he uses both please and thank you and sir and ma'am on his own.
Oh, this is interesting....

Don't get me wrong, I model it interacting with other adults I just wonder if it confuses a toddler.

She's polite enough for her age. She does use please when she asks for something and I think that's pretty good for just turning 2.

I do intend to use more when she's older but I can't help feeling somewhat condescending asking her to 'please get off the table' or 'please come here'. By the nature of her age she's engaged in activities that I can't compare with making the same request of other adults.

I'm beginning to feel like a brute...

and
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#29 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 09:17 PM
 
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I don't say please for actions I expect to happen as please to me implies a choice. I do though thank ahead for there coperation.
Honey I need you to come upstairs and put your clothes away. Thanks sweetie your giving mommy a huge help with laundry...

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#30 of 126 Old 12-20-2008, 09:19 PM
 
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I tried the "you may" way with our son, and he took that as having options more than me asking with a please. I can understand that. To me it sounds like you are saying you may (if you want) clean your room. I normally say, "Please pick up your toys." If I get a no I tell him that it's not an optional thing. He needs to do it. If he doesn't after that please disappears.

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