WHY PLEASE AND THANK YOU ARE THE MAGIC WORDS NOT ONLY TO EXPECT FROM YOUR KIDS, BUT FROM YOU AS WELL.
“Please and thank you, they are the magic words, if you want nice things to happen, they’re the words that should be heard.” Thank you Barney, purple dinosaur of the 1990s for those deep words of wisdom. When in doubt, listen to big purple dinosaurs … just don’t tell your therapist.
There was a stigma long ago, that children should be seen and not heard. Children should do as they are told, and STFU if you have other plans. Those parents are never wrong.
Alex Trebek: Is that your final answer?
Old parent from the 1970s and before: Yes, Alex.
Alex Trebek: So sorry.
I have bumped into that older generation, especially those who parented my generation who think that children are made into brave, God fearing ,fearless adult warriors, or actually statues and rule followers by making sure they suffer at the hands of parent egos and tight ass rules that are never bent. I certainly didn’t grow up this way.
My parents kept strict moral guidelines, curfews, household rules of respect, general social decorum, standards (or more like the “it better not pass your lips or your vajayjay…ever,) regarding sex and drugs. Education was important, providing for your family both financially and emotionally were also top runners.
We were also so proud of our Italian heritage and given to me both subliminally and outwardly were the love of family, country, Catholicism and tradition. Coupled with this was the allowance to be a free thinker…not a pot smoking hippie …a free thinker: permission to have a thought or idea and express it without being told it was stupid or crazy or ridiculous.
My father said that dreaming was the seed to success and paired with passion was the ultimate win. But there were caveats always and seeing it through and preparation for it’s possible failure was paramount. But he said to me “always dream. No idea is stupid until you try it and realize it’s stupid. Then you move on to plan B. People don’t achieve one success without 100 failures. The next dream should always be around the corner.”
So, where do the manners and please and thank you come in? Basically, while still setting realistic parameters and rules, remember to treat your child how you would like to be treated, and how you would like them to treat others, and your future grandchildren.
PLEASE AND THANK YOU:
I have heard so many parents say they don’t thank their kids or give them a pat on the back when they take out the garbage or complete a task because “that’s what they are supposed to to.” Ok, but don’t you want to be thanked when you drop your little ballerina off at dance or Pele off at soccer practice? Or do you like it when they slam the door as they arrive at their den of activity without saying goodbye to Mommy Cellophane? Even though as a parent, that’s what you are “supposed to do,” feeling appreciated is a human need. You don’t have to go overboard like you do when you are training a puppy “good boy, good boy, yes, mommy loves you. You want a treat?’ A simple “Thanks,” or “I appreciate that, “will do. Remember, a kid’s “scope” is as old as they are. A nine-year-old can’t run seven errands for you and drive a younger sibling to voice lessons. But they can take out the garbage or unset a table or make a bed, or clean up a playroom. Those tasks to a seasoned adult may seem minimal, but they are herculean to a four-year-old.
Verbal appreciation will make it worthwhile to do the task again, and it will become habit. The best part, as the kid grows, so will the magnitude of task. My older girls are the BEST helpers in so many ways, mostly without asking. And, I start and end every sentence with “Please,” and “Thank you.” Respect begets respect, from day one.
PRAISE IS GOOD…BALANCE IS BETTER
This generation of younger parents loves to give their kids a yummy for every GDamn thing the kid does. A frieking chart, sticker, gummy bear just for existing. Knock it off. Your boss isn’t going to be waiting at your desk with a Starbucks Americano and a bagel with fresh lox just because you showed up. He is going to expect you to be on time and earn your keep.
However, to a child who has been potty trained for six months and still basking in praise with treasures from the dollar store because they made a poop the size of an amoeba, will expect a sticker, a bag of Gummy Bears, or whatever the currency is…every time, everywhere for the rest of his/her life. Try instead moving on to the next level or teachable moment and take it from there. Gianmarco, my six-year-old has learned that putting the “fizzy” waters in the cooler and helping to put stuff in the snack bin is a good thing. This escalated into putting dirty clothes in the hamper and self-dressing. And, I will still say, “Thanks, that makes my job easier.” Wow! He has pleased the love of his life and all without roses and a box of chocolates.
Overpraising, I feel can be almost poisonous. Balancing praise with critique is also very important. Don’t be afraid to say to your burgeoning bundle of joy…” That was good, but this could be better.” Or, "I don’t think you had good judgement here,” or, “You raced through this,” or “I didn’t like your tone, your language,” or, “That was mean, and I don’t expect that from you.” “Your breath smells…brush again, this time with toothpaste.” “You only brushed half your hair…finish it.“ Parents have become afraid of their children, and children become very aware, stealthy and manipulative at an early age. I was afraid of my parents! LOL
Every time I cower because I hate the confrontation I always remember the daunting task the Lord has given me: to raise, healthy, nurtured, loving adults who treat themselves and others with respect, and who can also take out the garbage. Nobody is perfect, but my job is to take this empty slate and fill it with positivity and production. I’m not always going to be here to put detangler in your hair or throw away the underwear with skid marks.
JUSTIN BIEBER: IS IT TOO LATE NOW TO SAY SORRY?
Not a fan of the long haired hippie raised, ungrateful millionaire baby boy, but I love his lyrics. The answer to this is :No, and you better.
Some parents think that slamming down the gavel and calling in the guards is the grandest and most powerful way to exercise your parental license. Negative, oh powerful, omnipotent one. Quite the contrary. You are mortal and fallible, and your kids should know that.
Guess what, you are human and so are your kids. Teaching them that you are, sensitive, and very importantly, accountable, and contrite is one of the best gifts you can give them. It promotes compassion, responsibility and forgiveness.
Always remember “I love you,” even without a response from the eye-rolling teenager are the most important words of your day, even if they follow an unresolved argument, a confrontation or a bitchy ride to school. You don’t know what the day will bring. Until you see each other again, make those your final communication even if the response is a car door slam.
We all make parenting mistakes…every single day. But, in the end the parent who can teach their child to take care of themselves, welcome judgement, recognize mistakes, respect themselves, others and learn early on how to weave all the loops and bobs into an adulthood, is an adult who will learn to fish for a lifetime.
With so many kids, one of them is bound to not follow the program, even when the trip or event seems fun and kid friendly. In this case, that would be Gianmarco on a trip to Sea World in 2016.
Gianmarco is a relatively sweet, but relatively moody three-year-old. On a vacation to Universal Studios, we deviated a little and went to visit one of my favorite places, Sea World. Oh, I dreamed he would be in love with the fish, the dolphins, sea lions, stingrays and be smiling ear to ear in his stroller. Nope. So, what does every mother do when you would like to enjoy the outing with the other kids, and one is a complete killjoy? The proper thing is to buy him a toy. In this case, a whale fan.
Gianmarco loved the Shamu fan whose black and white propeller fins were the highlight of the day, and he would turn the fan on, and off, squealing with delight with each rotation. On and off. He was happy and we could now see Shamu in the flesh at the Shamu show! Off we went. He even left the stroller and walked with us to the entrance, turning the fan on, then off, on then off, on then off.
We sat high in the rafters for a great view, and I gave him a bag of popcorn to distract him from the fan. He munched happily,and I was enjoying the killer whales out of their habitat perform human directed leaps and squawks while feasting on dead herring. Then one of the most top ten terrifying mom moments of my life…the popcorn wasn’t cutting it anymore and he turned the fan on..right into a little girls long, Morticia-like locks sitting in front of us. The little girl screamed in horror, and the fan, it’s motor whining had it’s Shamu fins glued to her scalp stopped its rotation. I was frozen in horror. I attempted to unwind her hair from the shaft of the fan, but with it came the equivalent of a hair extension…only it was real. Her parents were so nice…nicer than I would have been EVER. The little girl was almost catatonic, and I didn’t know what else to do except apologize over and over and over, and I gave her 20.00 to buy something in the gift shop.
I can still feel the rapid palpitations in my chest just recounting the story.
The moral here, and the mistake I made…never bribe your kid with a plastic, handheld fan-waterbottle combo. It could be insanely “hairy.” As for another trip to SeaWorld? It’s like returning to the scene of a horrific crime that plays over and over in your nightmares….not any time soon.