Kids need to be reminded thousands of times to say “Please” and “Thank you.” The fact that they don’t remember does not mean that they are obtuse or rude. It’s simply a steep learning curve to say these extra words when the very same parents excitedly gave them exactly what they wanted when they cried as infants or demanded something as toddlers.
Children feel more and more entitled when their parents don’t require enough of them. Yet, getting angry at even the rudest children will not help them remember to be polite. We have to keep reminding kids to be polite without harshly demanding, “Say “Thank you #!*%*!!”
Brain wiring requires constant repetition as well as appropriate consequences. Holding back the dessert or dinner for a moment and saying, “Show a little appreciation” or “Say ‘Thank you'” with a smile helps remind them. Give them what they want only once they say “Please.” So, when they say, “Can I have another cookie?” you could simply pause and raise your eyebrows quizzically until they add, “Please.”
Also keep letting them know that when they are thankful, it makes you WANT to cook for them, drive them to town, and help them with their homework again.
Developing gratitude in children increases their awareness of other people. Rather than remaining like infants where the world revolves around them, they start recognizing the effort that others make to improve their lives. This in turn makes them able to connect with others from a less egocentric standpoint, and allows them to lead happier, more meaningful lives.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD