When A was learning her first words, we always made sure to say “Please” and “Thank you” when giving and receiving so she would learn politeness and manners early on. Once she grasped the concept, it was great – she would say “Please” when she wanted something and eventually “Thank You” became “Thank you, Mommy” and “lelcome” (you’re welcome).
As parents, we were pleased as punch that our daughter was learning manners early on and couldn’t resist giving her what she was asking for because those “magic words” are some mystical key to getting what we want. This is also where we went wrong.
Cute little words with seemingly innocent connotations soon because desperate “PLEASE! PLE-ASE! Have it?” and soon after the water works of a spoiled child followed. Without realizing it, we had taught her manners but not limitations and that sometimes, as the song goes, you can’t always get what you want. Since she is now able to throw a pretty good tantrum when this happens, we have to come up with a new strategy. What that is, I’m really not sure yet. At this point we’ve recognized that we need to remove her from the situation, calm her down and explain why she couldn’t have the cookie, or touch Nana’s expensive figurine and then get her engaged in something else, like playing with a favourite toy, singing a song or even watching a much-loved tv show (why IS Dora so memorizing, anyways?).
I suppose the next logical step is to teach her that “Please” is a request, not a demand; but how? Though my heart warms every time she uses a new word in context or, gasp, a sentence – “Daddy, you so funny” is amazingly cute – somehow I will have to figure out how to teach the rules of the English language and etiquette to a toddler. When someone figures that out, let me know!
Oh, and if you know how to explain that orange is a fruit, colour AND flavour, I know people who want that information.