24 May 2010

Mind Your Manners, Kids!

I'm totally going to be a parenting snob for this post.

For anyone familiar with our children, this is kind of hilarious. Here's an excerpt from an email that I get weekly about Karol's development from BabyCenter.

Now that your child is old enough to notice how grown-ups behave and that actions affect other people, he's ready to learn some manners. Start with the very simplest, "please" and "thank you." Role model without demanding compliance. You're likely to make more progress if you heap praise on him when he exhibits good manners than you will by hectoring him when he forgets to say "thank you." You want learning manners to be fun, not a battleground.
So now is the time, apparently, to start teaching 'please' and 'thank you.'

Karol is well versed in manners and etiquette well beyond her years, I guess. Not only does she use 'please' and 'thank you,' but she does it in complete sentences ("May I have some more milk please?") and doesn't need much prompting, if at all.

And Patrick's not far behind. He actually picked up 'please' all on his own, probably because he saw his sis getting what she asked for whenever she used it. I'll never forget those precious chubby cheeks when he brought me an empty cup and said "peez?" in that same tone that Karol uses. And now when he asks for "more," simply asking "can you say 'please?'" gets an appropriate response with no hassle. I suspect he'll be doing it all on his own well before his second birthday.

A trick I've started using recently - requiring Karol and Patrick to be polite to each other. This is actually how I approach a lot of conflicts. Fighting over the same toy is a great opportunity to encourage sharing, of course, and manners naturally are a part of that.

So, all that being said, I'm sure I'm a snooty mom for bringing it up at all, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to brag :)


  1. Not to steal your thunder, but I think many of these websites under-estimate how early children can learn manners, when to teach the concept of no, and when you should start disciplining a child. Evangeline has been using please and thank you for quite awhile. She has recently added you’re welcome. In fact, I think it has been at least 6 months since she had a 30 minute tantrum over not getting crackers because she wouldn’t say please. After that incident we have never had a problem getting her to use manners (Obviously I have some fundamental disagreements with the author's approach to teaching these concepts).

    Evangeline still forgets sometimes and often has to be prompted, but she does use manners willingly and likes using manners. In fact, she has just recently starting to use them in complete sentences. “May I please have . . .” or “Thank you Daddy.” Her sentences are not perfect, but she is doing well.

    Matt Ph.

  2. I guess the next question is, since this is a blog that focuses on the Montessori Method, at what age did Karol move from just saying please and thank you because you asked her too or she saw others doing it, to wanting to do it because she wanted to be respectful to others?

    Matt Ph

  3. Matt,

    I totally agree. It seems that most websites assume parents do very little to proactively train their little humans. Or perhaps, they need to speak to the lower end of the spectrum because, understandably, parents don't want to think their kids are slow.

    I think the transition between being polite out of obedience and out of a genuine respect for others is hard to detect because it's so gradual. It seems that Karol understands that we respect her when we talk to her like a person, rather than a subordinate, and she naturally reciprocates. The real joy is when she is being kind and polite with her brother who she might consider her subordinate - that's when I can tell she really 'gets' it. A big drawback to trying to use Montessori Method at home is that there aren't a whole lot of peers for her to practice social etiquette skills with :(