I am sure all of you have heard about “Barney”. When my girls were little, Barney was their very special friend. That’s how I know him. There is this song Barney sings called “Please and Thank you’. If you haven’t heard it here’s a link.
“Grace and courtesy” is a very important area that we pay attention to in the Montessori environment. “Please” and “Thank you” are a part of the grace and courtesy lessons. Let me explain, why I think, it is very important to have these two phrases as a part of the child’s vocabulary.
Firstly, let’s discuss, why we should have “grace and courtesy lessons” – doesn’t it come naturally to a child? The answer to this is yes and no. Yes because it does come naturally but no because it won’t happen if it is not in the child’s environment. Hence, for grace and courtesy to be a part of the child’s life he needs to be surrounded by it. The conversations you have with the child and others are giving him ideas about how to treat people.
There are two myths I have come across, when I talk about the importance of this:
- Please and Thank you are words used only with people you are not close to.
- Please is used only if the other person you are communicating with is older.
In my opinion both these myths are untrue. Let me tell you why!
- “Please”– Makes what you are asking into a request. Otherwise it sounds like a command. When we request someone we are showing respect. The other person feels this respect which makes them happy. So this kind of communication makes people feel good and isn’t that the foundation for harmonious relationships? So why not say “Please” to anyone irrespective of age or closeness. We sometimes take for granted the things our immediate family does for us. When we use the word ‘Please’, we will be reminded that it is not their job “To do this for us”, they are doing us a favour. This will in turn lead us towards the word ‘Thank You’.
- “Thank You” —Shows gratitude. When we thank someone we are acknowledging their contribution to the situation. This makes them feel appreciated and hence happy. The word ‘Thank You’ does more than just make people happy. It instills confidence, boosts self-esteem and in short produces a positive feeling in the other person. The person that says ‘Thank You’ is also benefited – it teaches them to be grateful for every little thing that they get. Gratitude creates happiness in people. So again, neither is age a bar nor closeness a bar.
That’s why I think, they are truly magical words! They can transform people and relationships. The usage of these two phrases need not be limited in any way. The more you use them, the more joy you get and share. As per Barney, “say it morning, noon and night.”
How can we instill this in our children?
- Use it with the child in every conversation you have with them.
- Make it a part of your vocabulary too.
- Encourage children to say ‘please’ when they ask you something and ‘Thank You’ when you’ve done it for them.
- Feel it when you say it.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a spiritual teacher has come up with a walking ‘Thank You’ meditation, here are the steps:
- Walk bare foot slowly feeling the contact with the ground.
- For every step you place say Thank You’.
This meditation can be taught to children.
Helping the child understand and have respect by using “Please” and gratitude by using “Thank You” will give them skills to live a “POWERFUL” life.
Please create a polite environment for you child and Thank you for reading.