When you prompt your little one to “say please” or “say sorry”, they’re learning that they have to copy what you say to get what they want, but it’s unlikely they’re learning WHY we say please or sorry.
One of the best ways we can teach our little ones the best thing to say in the moment is by speaking FOR THEM and in the first person. So if they grab something from you, you could say “thank you, mummy”. If they ask for more you could say “more please, daddy” just before you hand more over. If they’ve hurt someone, you could say “that hurt Sarah when you pushed her. I’m sorry, Sarah”.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Copying in the moment because your parent has told you to and actually UNDERSTANDING that saying please/thank you is part of our language structure and cultural make-up is totally different. I hear parents saying “say please” all the time, and I guess we want to hear it because we want to instil manners in our little ones. But being able to repeat ‘please’ isn’t an indication of manners, it’s an indication of being able to parrot! For kids, it just becomes a routine: do something, wait for Mum to ask me to copy her, copy her, get what I want.
WHY I LET ‘PLEASE’ SLIDE.
Our kids are little. In the scheme of things, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ isn’t important at all - it doesn’t get your needs met or express your feelings or tell you something important. And when you’re little and your language isn’t fully developed - why waste time teaching and expecting manners? I’d much prefer that August had the language to tell me his feelings, tell me he was hurt, tell me his needs. August has just started to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ naturally in his sentences because he’s heard me model it, never because I’ve asked him to imitate. It just wasn’t important to me. This is also why none of my sign posters have the signs for ‘please’ and ‘thank you’!
Is please and thank you super important to you? Have you tried modelling instead of asking them to parrot? Let me know.