What parent does not like to hear how well mannered their children are? I see it all the time parents (including myself) reminding, coaxing and down-right demanding children to say please, thank you and other common manners that even a lot of adults forget to use these days!
When my oldest daughter, Caitlyn was learning her manners, I thought I was a great parent … she was more than willing to use manners and very quickly learned just how cute she was and how she was able to get whatever she wanted just by adding a please to it and heck if she threw a thank you onto the end she received even more attention, which she just gobbled up! When Allyson came along this was also a smooth ride … she would do anything her older sister did. Wow, I was good at this parenting stuff … I had two very polite little girls. Then came Jacob, it is not that he was/is not polite but he is very shy, to the point where it is impossible for him to talk to people that he does not feel comfortable with (and this can take a long time). At first I would really push him, “how hard is it to just say please or thank you” but soon realized that for him it was beyond hard to almost impossible. His breathing would change and he would become very flustered. I realized I was not helping… with a little research and communication with Jacob, I stopped pushing and we arrived on common ground where he could tell me what he wanted to say and I would ‘interpret’. Giving me a polite child and avoided him going into full fledged anxiety attack!
Well, now we have Rick, who I frequently refer to as ‘my perfect two year old’. Rick has been my challenge … Rick is the sweetest and naughtiest little guy that there is. He wants to push every limit just a little more and challenge every boundary, one more time. But then he wants to throw his arms around you and snuggle in your lap. He can frustrate me to tears and melt my heart in the same two seconds!
So, Rick is just learning his manners. He is learning the power of please … as he demands “I need a cookie, right now, please.” When he first said this I was thrilled and praised him and said “oh, it is so nice to say please.” What I forgot to say was that his very demanding tone of voice, his stomping foot and pointing finger really took away from the actual good manners he was using. Apparently I had taught him is that he can have whatever he wants as long as he says please. And now we all know, old habits are hard to break, even when they are only a few days old. I will say that his pleases have transformed from the meek little please to a great big loud PPPLLLEEEAAASSSEEE but if the answer is still “no more cookies” his demanding stomps and pointing finger comes right back out! These manners lessons have also carried over to the “I’m sorry” … apparently it is okay to hit your siblings as long as it is followed with an “I’m sorry.”
I know that this is a normal progression of children but hey, I thought I had mastered the lessons of teaching manners long ago and here I am at square one. But then my perfect two year old surprises me, this morning when I handed him his orange juice he looked at me with his big blue eyes and replied so sweetly, “Thank you, mommy.” So maybe I am not the Manners Teaching Master yet but at least they are learning. And hey, I have one more try with Sam (my littlest one).