I don’t know how many kids we have had to teach to use “please” and “thank you” in their daily communication with one another. More often than not, kids who want something would exclaim in a loud voice, “I WANT!” and their parents would hand it to them instead of teaching them the appropriate way to ask for things.
It is not difficult at all to train kids to say their “Please” and “Thank you”.
Whenever a child says “I want!”, just stop and ask, “How do you ask?” and if he had been taught before, he would think for a while and change his tone and sentence to: “Can I have the cake please?” and then you give him a smile and hand it to him. But before you let go of the plate, you wait for him to say his “thank you”, and there you go, lesson is learnt! Our girls still ask permission to partake any food today even though I have told them that they are old enough to decide for themselves, whether or not to take the food or drink. This is a good habit to adopt.
Also, children need to be taught to offer food or drink to the elderly first, whenever they are around. This is very important to show their grandparents due respect. This kind of habit will not be practiced if it is not taught. So, please do remember to teach your children these good habits at home.
Still on the topic of food, some kids (including adults!) tend to eat only the kind of food that they like, and they eat a lot of it! For example, a boy we know, let’s just name him Tom, absolutely dislikes greens. Whenever he eats outside, he would only eat if the food is to his liking. Otherwise, he would rather go hungry. There was one time he called his mom to complain about the food at his friend’s house.
Son: “Mom! I want to eat wanton mee. I don’t want to eat the rice with vegetables here!”
Mom: “OK darling. Mommy will take care of it.”
(Mother calls her friend.)
Mom: “Hello Sally! Tom says he wants to eat wanton mee. Do you think you could drive out to buy him some?”
Friend: “Oh, is that so. What’s wrong with the healthy organic meal that I had prepared?”
Mom: “Oh I’m sure it is super! But Tom hates vegetables, you know that, don’t you?”
Friend: “oh yes, only too well, only too well!”
And that was the last time Tom was ever invited to her house.
Parents go to great length to try to please their kids, even to the point of spoiling them, but they do it nevertheless, perhaps because of guilt (for not being good parents), or fear (of their kid’s tantrums), or compensation (for the things they did not have when they were kids). So, when Child A says, “I want a PSP!” the parents buy one for him. Then, Child B says, “I also want!” and the parents get one for him too so as to prevent them from fighting over the game. Then Child A says, “Mine spoilt already. I want a new one!” And he gets his new toy. And Child B says, “I also want!” And so the game continues…..
We find that doing a short reflection (or prayer) on food together as a family before meals works very well to develop gratefulness and appreciation for the food on the meal table. Whenever children forget to be grateful and start to complain about the food, we ask them to recite the reflection on food again as a reminder to them. Our children thank us for every meal that we prepare or buy for them. It has been a habit that they started since they were little.
“Thank you Mommy for lunch!” or “Thank you Mommy for dinner!”
These are such wonderful words to the ears! I wonder how many kids these days utter these words of thanks to their parents on a daily basis.
Have a happy meal with your family today and everday!
And have a good day!
Ed note: The “I” is the ego, the selfishness of individuals we continue to feed – unwittingly at times. We sometimes do not give chances for our children to be selfless, the basis of a peaceful & harmonious community. This is what learning is about, the ability to go beyond the self. There is always something deeper and more meaningful in educating our children, we just need to find it.