Should I say 'thank you'? My husband and I constantly disagree about this. I have a 2 year old daughter, and when she listens to what I ask her to do, such as by picking up something, I thank her. My husband says I shouldn't do that, that she should just do it because that's what she's supposed to do. He doesn't feel she should be congratulated. Am I sending the wrong message, or is he? -- Bella0308
He is! You are doing the right thing -- modeling the behavior you want your child to have. If you are truly serious about teaching your child manners, you must first set a standard in your household.
Learning manners is a family affair. While manners can be taught by just one parent, they're most effective when both parents are on the same page. Here are one of the tools I use in my "Homemade Manners" program.
First, sit down with your husband and talk about how you want to include manners in your lives. Your daughter needs consistency, otherwise you are sending her mixed signals.
Each of you should create a list of things that are important to you and that you want to instill in your child. Then, compare your lists and work through them together until you have a master list. Place the master list on your refrigerator as a daily reminder.
You can't have "thank you" without "please." It is very important that you ask your child to do something politely. "Susie, will you please pick up that toy and put it away?" When she does it, then you say "Thank you." If (to your husband's point) she doesn't respond to it, then you repeat your question, removing the word please and using a more stern tone of voice.
If she continues to ignore you, this is where your personal choice comes in. Children have to be exposed to and use the words to learn them. Lead by example. Incorporate these words and the other chosen manners into your daily lives.
While your husband is correct in believing that these are simple chores that your child should do without fanfare, it doesn't mean they can't be done politely and with gratitude. He needs to understand that the reason for your words runs deeper than just positive reinforcement for a job well done. These words are the base, the foundation if you will, for teaching your child good manners. You are choosing to lead by example and should be congratulated for your efforts.
Imagine the world we would live in if all of our children grew up to be thankful!
Please remember to submit your questions by sending them to MrsManners or posting them here. I look forward to hearing from you. Until next week ...
Angela W. Pitre, aka MrsManners
Past Ask Mrs Manners columns: