Manners… please!

· We can make our child say 'please and thank you' but we cannot make our child feel grateful. How then, do we go about raising genuinely grateful children who are able to offer a sincere apology? ·

Date
May, 16, 2022

One of the many things I love about British culture is the politeness. The many phrases available in the English language express gratitude and apology. Contrast that by my native Denmark where we take a more relaxed to manners. For starters, the word ‘please’ doesn’t exist in the Danish language.

I am pro manners, as you can tell.

Yet, have you noticed, that in our pursuit of raising kids to be polite and contentious – we often overlook the fact that there is a difference between;

  • Acting polite
    and
  • Feeling grateful

That just because we can make our child say ‘sorry’ we cannot make our child feel remorse. In fact, anything that we, as humans, are forced to do, creates a level of resistance within – and chances are that remorse or gratitude will rarely be felt or expressed.

So how might we raise children who are able to FEEL grateful and offer a GENUNE apology?

Rather than insisting;

say please”

in front of other adults, gently remind your child from time to time to say please and thank you – but remember that it takes time for a child to learn and apply these social scripts.

If you doubt the sincerity your child’s apologies or if your child often flatly refuses to apologise, try instead:

“When you are ready, I think an apology would be nice”

A genuine apology is supposed to cost something to our dignity and is therefore a vulnerable process. One that can’t be forced. Trust, therefore, the process of life – that children grow up to be grateful if we are, and will more likely offer a genuine apology if they have been in the receiving end of one from us.



Louise Brooks

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