In his general audience for May 13, 2015, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of three little sayings in family life: may I?, thank you, and pardon me. They may be small gestures, but they can have a big impact on relationships and the life of the whole family.
Take a week to focus on asking May I? and saying please. Here are three ways to practice these polite words:
1. Play the Please Game, a variation on “Simon Says.” The leader issues commands to the rest of the group, who only obey if the leader uses “please.” Check out a video of the game in action in a classroom.
2. Play Captain May I? If you’re not familiar with the game, check out the basic game play at Wikipedia.
3. Count your pleases. Every day this week, have a little friendly competition to see who can use please and May I?the most often during the day. Each person can carry a set of chips or other tally markers with them throughout the day to keep track, or if you really want to get kids on board, invest in a hand-held tally counter, which you can purchase in stores or online for about $3. At the end of the day, count up your “politeness points” to see who “won.” Point out that when we are polite with one another, everyone wins!
Dr. Sears has an excellent little primer on how to teach kids to say please and thank you. His seven tips:
- Expect respect (and respect is rooted in sensitivity to others, which can be taught from infancy)
- Teach polite words early
- Model manners (kids, even older kids and teens, are great imitators of mom and dad)
- Teach name-calling
- Acknowledge the child
- Don’t force manners
- Correct politely
You can get the details on his seven tips in his article 7 Ways to Teach Your Child Good Manners. For an interesting perspective on why modeling polite words works better than “teaching” them to little kids, see Please don’t teach yiour child to say please and thank you over at SmartTalkers.