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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Perhaps as a result of a heated discussion with a co-worker, I wanted to broach this topic to you mamas (and pops)....<br><br>
What do you all think of compulsory manners? By this I mean, requiring your children to say "please" and "thank you" and "i'm sorry" on cue. I guess I may bias the response when I say that I'm not sure that saying "what do you say?" to a child after giving him or her something is necessarily a good idea. Or requiring a child to say "I'm sorry" after a wrongdoing really proves that the child feels remorseful for what was done. Even more so (in the manner illustrated on shows like SuperNanny), I think it promotes an adversarial relationship among parent and child and potentially could create a power struggle.<br><br>
I guess it all came from a situation in which a new employee asked the two of us for some advice about moving to the area and getting settled. We both replied to her questions and haven't heard from her since. My co-worker was annoyed (to put it very mildly) that this new employee never emailed back to say Thank you or sent a thank you card. And while that would have been nice, I just don't need that. I feel that if you require an thank you or an apology from someone then you aren't acting out of your own conscience so-to-speak but just from the reactions of another. Also, I think that just because the new employee didnt explicitly say "thank you" doesn't mean that she wasn't grateful.<br><br>
To bring it back to guiding our children, shouldn't we foster in our children that these words are only meaningful if said when they feel it and not because it's "customary"?<br><br>
I know that there are many different point of views of this topic among parents and wanted to get a varied opinion. If it seems that I'm looking for one type of response (from my already very outspoken post <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> ), don't let that sway your reply.<br><br>
Kylix
 

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At home, with us I like it when my kids use these words but I don't ask them to. I and my dh do model this behavior.<br><br>
HOWEVER, outside the home, with others we do have an expectation that they will say please and thank you and I am sorry.<br><br>
And this is because it is polite to others.<br><br>
If there is one thing I just can't stand in the business world its people who fail to d say "I am sorry" even if they are NOT when these words need to be said. I mean, your company screwed something up you still better say "I am sorry" to your customer even if you truly in your heart don't feel this way!
 

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I will sometimes tell dd when an apology is appropriate, but I never tell her to say "I'm sorry". Frankly, I don't want her to say it just to be polite or just to please me. I want her to understand what it means and use it appropriately.<br><br>
Most of the times that dd refuses, she is angry and the situation is more complex than the adults may first assume. So we talk a bit, hash out the situation, and then she is usually better able to feel, and say, sorry.<br><br>
If anything, I believe that people expect the "I'm sorry" too soon. Many, many times dd has chosen not to say sorry immediately (and I don't force), and then returns to say these things willingly and genuinely 5-15 minutes later. Sometimes she is overwhelmed with emotion in the moment, and needs some time to sit back and reflect on the situation (her actions, her choices, her fault).<br><br>
As for please and thank you, dd says these things at home because we've always modeled it. In public, she is still sometimes too shy (like if a stranger offers her something....she is unlikely to say thank you). So I reply for us. She definitely understands good manners, however, and I have no doubt she will use them with more confidence as she grows.
 

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Nah. We don't press them re: these words. However, we do press them regarding their tone and language - insisting on consideration and politeness. I don't like to have things demanded of me. I will coach them to say, <i>"Would you get me a drink?"</i> rather than <i>"I'm thirsty! Get me something now!"</i> "Please" is optional. Or better yet, <i>"The way you said that felt rude to me. Is there a nicer way you can go about getting what you want?"</i><br><br>
But you know - most of the time, they do use please, thank you and I'm sorry.... without being asked to. Kids do what the people around them do.
 

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With my son, I try to let him see me being polite to others and I am polite to him. I notice a lot of parents don’t feel the need to say please and thank you or I’m sorry to their children, yet they expect their children to use these words appropriately. If you can’t model it, you shouldn’t expect it from your child. JMO.<br><br>
I would never force my child to say these things under any circumstance, whether he should or not. It is meaningless when forced. I would rather he say please or thank you because he genuinely means it, not because someone is pressuring him to say it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamaduck</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Nah. We don't press them re: these words. However, we do press them regarding their tone and language - insisting on consideration and politeness. I don't like to have things demanded of me. I will coach them to say, <i>"Would you get me a drink?"</i> rather than <i>"I'm thirsty! Get me something now!"</i> "Please" is optional. Or better yet, <i>"The way you said that felt rude to me. Is there a nicer way you can go about getting what you want?"</i><br><br>
But you know - most of the time, they do use please, thank you and I'm sorry.... without being asked to. Kids do what the people around them do.</div>
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Vermillion</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">With my son, I try to let him see me being polite to others and I am polite to him. I notice a lot of parents don’t feel the need to say please and thank you or I’m sorry to their children, yet they expect their children to use these words appropriately. If you can’t model it, you shouldn’t expect it from your child. JMO.<br><br>
I would never force my child to say these things under any circumstance, whether he should or not. It is meaningless when forced. I would rather he say please or thank you because he genuinely means it, not because someone is pressuring him to say it.</div>
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Thank you all for your replies. I agree that children learn best by modeling. And Mamaduck, I wholeheartedly believe that the WAY things are said and done speak volumes more than a simple "please" or "thank you".<br><br>
I guess another point I wanted to make is that I think it is ruder to expect someone to say these words (i.e., thank you or please) to you or to scoff or look down on that person for not saying these words (i.e., that B&*$% didn't say "thank you") than it is for the other person to forget to say them. Isn't part of politeness and manners not to judge or think without evidence poorly of another person's intentions? Shouldn't we be teaching our children this too?<br><br>
Kylix
 

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I don't know - I've been wondering about this myslef, in the context of saying thank you for gifts.<br><br>
I encourage my girls to send thank you notes for gifts, parties etc, and they love to do so. In fact, dd#1 often suggests it. If they don't want to, I do it for them. I know it gives pleasure to the receiver and to me, it's impolite not to say thank you.<br><br>
When I send gifts to other people and don't get an acknowledgement, it bothers me. I do wonder if it should, or if I"m being silly - is it right to anticipate a 'thank you'? I'm not sure - but if I never hear from someone about a gift, I find myself feeling a little irritated - I want to know if it fitted, if the child enjoyed it, and how it was received. I struggle with whether that is illogical on my part - the joy should be in the giving. But I guess I'd like to be there to see the receiving, and if I"m not, I"d like to hear about it! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/headscratch.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="headscratch"><br><br>
Then again, I recall as a child being forced to write endless thank you notes- and with some gifts, wishing I"d just not been given them, as I hadnt particularly liked them (eg itchy nightdresses <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> ) and would prefer not to get the gift and not have to make my wrists ache writing thank you notes.<br><br>
Hmm, I"m interested to hear what others have to say.<br><br>
One thing I do not do is even suggest that my kids say "I'm sorry". I dont want to force them to lie. It has to come from the heart. I deal with each situation according to circumstance, and try to encourage empathy, even if it doesnt come around until an hour or so later when everyone has cooled off. I"d prefer a genuine show of remorse and love later in the day than an insincere 'I"m sorry' at the time.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Britishmum</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't know - I've been wondering about this myslef, in the context of saying thank you for gifts.<br><br>
I encourage my girls to send thank you notes for gifts, parties etc, and they love to do so. In fact, dd#1 often suggests it. If they don't want to, I do it for them. I know it gives pleasure to the receiver and to me, it's impolite not to say thank you.<br><br>
When I send gifts to other people and don't get an acknowledgement, it bothers me. I do wonder if it should, or if I"m being silly - is it right to anticipate a 'thank you'? I'm not sure - but if I never hear from someone about a gift, I find myself feeling a little irritated - I want to know if it fitted, if the child enjoyed it, and how it was received. I struggle with whether that is illogical on my part - the joy should be in the giving. But I guess I'd like to be there to see the receiving, and if I"m not, I"d like to hear about it! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/headscratch.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="headscratch"><br><br>
Then again, I recall as a child being forced to write endless thank you notes- and with some gifts, wishing I"d just not been given them, as I hadnt particularly liked them (eg itchy nightdresses <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> ) and would prefer not to get the gift and not have to make my wrists ache writing thank you notes.<br><br>
Hmm, I"m interested to hear what others have to say.</div>
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I have taught my girls the "art" of writing Thank you notes. In your situation (itchy nightdress) the words we are going for are:<br><br>
Dear Aunt X,<br><br>
I just opened your present and saw the nightdress with the blue flowers. Did you know that that is the exact blue color of my room? It certainly was a perfect match! (or whatever one can think to say nice about the gift if possible) Thank you so much for thinking of me on my birthday. It is so generous of you to do so, and I look forward to seeing you soon.<br><br>
I love you!<br><br>
Your niece M<br><br><br><br>
See what I mean?
 

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I do expect good manners from my children and we work on it continually not just when they need to do something. I expect them to send thank you notes (simple ones at thier age or if they have a lot to write) and if they do something wrong and aren't forth coming with an apology I help them come up with one. I don't think sorry has to siginfy remorse, just more of a "my bad" and thank you doesn't have to mean you like the what you got but that you are acknowledging someone went out of thier way to be nice. and please means you are giving someone a graceful way to say no.<br><br>
I was never taught these things and was embarrassed as a teen/young adult when I didn't know them and wasn't in the habit of using them. I would have at least appreciated being in the habit.<br><br>
and I do get annoyed when people don't use nice manners. It is important to me that people make that extra effort. WhenI buy a gift (especially something like a wedding gift or something that has to be mailed) I do expect a thank you and I am anoyed when I don't get one and it very will influence wether or not I get that person a gift. if they don't care enough to acknowledge getting it and being a little thankful for it why bother next time? that is just the natrual consequences of not being polite. I wouldn't write the person off completely and wouldn't stew over it but it would effect wether or not I went out of my away again for them.<br><br>
So yes my children learn manners, ractice manners and when the rubber mets the road I expect them to use good manners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>philomom</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Living in the South, manners are the expected norm. I do coax, but not demand, basic manners from my kids.</div>
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See, I grew up in the South too and maybe that explains my adversion to compulsory manners....<br><br>
Although I grew up in an environment where you said it regardless of if you mean it (i.e., my teachers at school though this or my neighbors or the pastors at church), my own family wasn't that way. And I too, <b>lilyka</b>, felt a little uneasy as a teen and young adult (i'm 22 now), about when it was right to say certain things. So, I think you make a good case that you do a disservice to children about not teaching them manners. BUT, I guess my question is can't you do it without making it compulsory. I think, as some others have suggested, that modeling works too and just seems more genuine to me than "whaddya say?", yk?<br><br><b>Britishmum</b>--maybe our different views on receiving a "thank you" are a product of the different ways we grew up. I never was made to send a thank you card so when I don't get a thank you, it just doesn't bother me. Mainly because even though I was always grateful for what I received as a child and beyond, I was never made to say it. So I've come to realize that just because I don't hear the words doesn't mean the person didn't feel moved or didn't appreciate what was done for them.<br><br>
At the same time, I guess I need to put myself in the other set of shoes and recognize that a thank you <i>is</i> important to others. I think what you are doing is a great thing. Encouraging thank you cards with your girls but not requiring them (i.e., writing them if they will not). It is respectful of both parties and perhaps it is what I should strive for.<br><br>
Hope that all made sense...and that it doesn't seem like I'm straddling the fence. It basically boils down to I don't think that these things should be mandatory but I do acknowledge the fact that some people need them more than others.<br><br>
Kylix
 

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Manners are very important in our house, not because they are "correct," but because they are a way of building a connection with another person. My kids imitate us, and I've been told that my son is the most polite kindergartner ever, but I don't think it's because he wants to be socially correct. I think it's more like my 2-year old -- he just learned that saying "thank you" will be met with "you're welcome," and he takes such delight in the exchange that he actually does a happy-dance.<br><br>
That being said, I don't force my kids to utter the phrases (though I will speak for them if shyness seems to be the only thing holding them back). And I don't really think about it if I don't get a "thank you" from someone -- but usually, the "thank yous" are only absent if it is a person I truly don't have a connection with.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lurk.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lurk">:
 

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While I don't "force" mannerly phrases from my children, I do model them and expect my children to use them. For my 2 YO, its enough for them to be modeled at home and she is usually charmingly cute with her please and thank you. My 5 YO and I have talked about how these phrases make other people feel good and thus are nice to do for other people. Both children are frequently complimented on their manners, and I have pointed out how nice it is for them to be thanked and noticed. Sometimes I coach what needs to be said because the situation is especially important (thank you to elderly aunt, excuse me to the priest at church, please to next year's teacher). But I can generally do this without making the child feel awkward, which is important to me. Because my children get a lot of attention at church, we've talked a lot about how to make some of the older parishioners have a better day, and that includes being polite. DS (5) thinks its a fun game to see how many smiles he can get from this crowd, and he's discovered that nice manners are a sure fire hit. It's nice for him to get the reinforcement.<br><br>
That said, I truly dislike it when the kids forget and someone tries to force/prompt them into a response. Yesterday at the park a little boy was blocking the top of the ladder and demanding that my 2 YO DD "say the majic word". She said "por favor", which he didn't recognize so he didn't move. I intervened to let him know she had said please in Spanish and would he please let her by. I was amused that her cleverness.<br><br>
I have encouraged manners not only because it makes others feel good, but because it generally results in my children being treated more politely in return. Given the number of adults who think nothing of being rude to a child, this makes their day a little more pleasent and reduces my blood pressure a bit too. Its a selfish reason, but mannerly phrases do have their uses!
 

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this reminds me of my MIL when she was here...everytime Sophia wanted something Grandma would give it to her and say "yes please" trying to coax her to say it...she never ever repeated it.<br><br>
I generally say "yes, thank you" because somehow "yes please" sounds like begging...I just prefer it...I never told Sophia to say it but she does use manners though.<br><br>
One day I asked Sophia if she wanted something and she said "no yes peas, yes thank you much" No one knew what she meant except me....I got it! She looked at me as if to ask "is that right mommy?" I said "yes thank you is right sweetie and gave her what she wanted"<br><br>
Just kinda goes to show that it's modelling that works not coaxing...
 

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I try to model please and thank you and such. And, I do give my son reminders (out of the public eye), but his manners are pretty good. I think there's much, much more to courtesy and polite behaviour than the formal words. My dh is much more into formal manners than I am, so we occasionally bump heads on this.<br><br>
I <i>really</i> dislike seeing parents push this stuff really hard. My SIL had a son when she and my brother got together. They were over Christmas morning years ago - he was about 6 - then went and had a midday Christmas meal with her family, then came back to our house for our Christmas supper. When my SIL was getting ready to go, her son was clinging to her leg and crying - he was absolutely exhausted and didn't know any of us very well. She got really upset with him and made a <i>huge</i> production out of making him say thank you to my mom for having them over. Well...he obviously didn't mean it (he just wanted to go home) and the scene made everyone there very uncomfortable. How on earth is doing something like that - upsetting everyone and traumatizing your exhausted little boy - teaching someone good manners??<br><br>
I'm more concerned with trying to teach ds the underlying courtesy - think about how other people feel when they do something for you and you brush them off...think about how much effort someone has made when they throw you a party or have you overnight...do you like being interrupted...things like that. So far, it's worked out very well - I've had many compliments on how polite he is, and it's not from forcing him into a mold.
 

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i've never really asked rowan to say please or thank you but he says them on his own most of the time (he's 2yo). when someone gives him something and i'm there, i'll say thank you on his behalf but won't make him do it. most of the time he says thank you himself and everybody thinks he's adorable. LOL
 

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I notice here that a lot of parents have a set phrase their kids have to say before getting down from the table. I have one friend who is a <i>terrible</i> cook and it always makes me inwardly giggle when her kids have to thank her for a 'delicious' dinner. :LOL<br><br>
Do you guys make your kids ask to get down? Mine just naturally move away - they tend to tell me they're done, and what they're going to go off to do next. They dont get up and down - although if they get down quickly to look at something or fetch something then get back up that's fine with me. It bugs me a little when other parents correct my kids for not following their style at meals - there seems to be an assumption that I'm going to be as rigid as they are and that their way is 'the' way.
 

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For me, it's all about the modeling. I mean, I will definitely make suggestions about how my kids treat other people, but I would never force specific manners from them. When my kids are very young, if they act inappropriately, I will apologize for them, and then talk to them (privately or quietly) about why that particular may have been hurtful or disrespectful to the person in question.<br><br>
I just saw an example of a situation like this the other day at the park (in my opinion a totally inappropriate way of handling the situation from this parent)<br><br>
To summarize:<br><br>
Two kids playing at the playground, girl hits boy with stick (not sure if it was accidental or intentional). Mother of the girl immediately yells out loud (and very demeaning) at the girl bringing her to tears, drags her over to the boy, while she (girl) is obviously very upset and mother demands that she apologize to the boy. She did so, but the empathy wasn't there.<br><br>
And how could it have been in my opinion? The mother totally embarrassed the girl by doing this. She shamed her, and in return, the little girl won't feel good about making amends next time. She'll remember how horrible she felt when mother embarrassed her in front of total strangers. Later, same girl was over by the water fountain, while there was a line behind her, and she just kept standing there purposely as to not allow anyone else to have a drink. Even though this slightly irritated me at the time, I felt so sorry for the girl. She must have total diminished self esteem (and how could she not with parental treatment like that), and was trying to exert some type of control in her life as if to say, "I am somebody, and I am important!"<br><br>
Sorry, IMO, kids don't learn from belittlement, they learn by example.
 

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If we're out in public and someone gives something to my daughter and she doesn't thank them, I say, "Can you say 'thank you' please?" She usually says "thank you". If not, I say thank you for her. I don't demand it but I do ask.
 
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