The Value of Teaching Children to Say The Magic Words

24 November, 2018
Teaching children to say please, thank you, and good morning can go a long way.

The value of saying “thank you” and of treating another person with respect, and remembering to use the word “please” when you ask for something are noble things worth teaching children.

It’s possible that you yourself are of a younger generation and your parents already taught you to respect other people. They may have taught you that it’s necessary to treat them with care so that you also will be treated the same in return.

Teaching children these habits is essential so that on a daily basis they can set good examples. And so, they can also encourage more respectful societal behaviors that make tomorrow better for all of us.

Because, believe it or not, the smallest gestures can fill a universe with emotion. Today we invite you to think more about this.

The power of saying “thanks” is something worth teaching children

Saying “thank you,” “good morning” and “please” when you ask for something is more than just an act of courtesy.

In fact, it’s a way to get your children to think outside the box. It may also help them move away from their early childhood egocentrism to recognize other people and their needs. This is something that needs to happen as early as six years of age.

Let’s look a little closer.

The moral development of children

One of the best-known authors when it comes to the moral development of children is without a doubt, Lawrence Kohlberg.

He famously said that there are countless differences from one child to another, even between siblings, but they usually follow the same pattern of development with respect to awareness, being respectful, and recognition of others.

  • During early childhood, between two and five years of age, the child is governed only by their rewards and punishments. They understand that they must obey the rules imposed upon them in order to gain affection and avoid scolding or punishment.
  • Moving into the second phase of childhood the golden age begins. Between the ages of six and nine, that individualistic egocentrism gradually subsides.
  • By the time they are eight to ten, the child is able to understand the concept of the common good and that respecting others results in receiving respect themselves.
  • It’s common that at this age they will act out in defense of their friends and siblings. This is when they become aware of what is more than just themselves as individuals.
  • Gradually they will arrive at adolescence with a kind of critical “self-righteousness,” considering certain things as disrespectful or unfair.
Teaching children the value of respect is essential

Courtesies that make it easier to connect with the world

When someone offers a four-year-old child a gift, you usually hear the parents say something like, “What do you say?

To this, the child, almost reluctantly or quietly, will respond: “Thank you.”

  • It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat it: there will come a time when it not only becomes automatic, but they realize what it means.
  • When they say “please” for something in class, they might find that their peer offers it to them with a smile. In turn, when they say “thank you,” the other child will respond “with pleasure”.
  • All of this fosters powerful connections that are based on positive emotions.
  • The transition between thanking someone out of compulsion to spontaneous and willing behavior is a wonderful process that will forever alter their life.
  • Positive gestures provide warmth, and when you treat others with respect it makes things easier.

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The power of a respectful upbringing

No doubt you’ve already heard of the term “respectful parenting”. It’s a concept that has been taken up by authors William Sears and John Bowlby.

  • This interesting idea emphasizes the need to foster a child’s natural adaptation to their environment. It also encourages empathy and emotional bonds that will allow them to better understand the world around them, other people, and themselves.
  • Respectful parenting means that you encourage a healthy attachment between parent and child with physical closeness, hugs, positive words, and continuous communication.
  • Positive words are key to this type of development.
  • Thus, you should try to promote your child’s education based on positive reinforcement. This means emphasizing the need to give thanks, to say please, to be patient, and to respect the appropriate time for your child to acquire this kind of knowledge.
  • Respectful parenting argues that positive emotions have more power than negative ones. The brain is constantly looking for the type of stimuli that will help you learn to survive and better adapt.

We recommend you also read:

5 words to teach your children

So when your child learns that saying “good morning,” asking for things with the word “please,” and thanking others provides positive reinforcement, they’ll never stop doing it.

  • Ciarrochi, J., Atkins, P. W., Hayes, L. L., Sahdra, B. K., & Parker, P. (2016). Contextual Positive Psychology: Policy Recommendations for Implementing Positive Psychology into Schools. Frontiers in Psychology7, 1561.
  • Pluskota A. (2014). The application of positive psychology in the practice of education. SpringerPlus3, 147.
  • Shoshani, A., & Slone, M. (2017). Positive Education for Young Children: Effects of a Positive Psychology Intervention for Preschool Children on Subjective Well Being and Learning Behaviors. Frontiers in Psychology8, 1866.