My (now) three year old had just turned two when he started coming here. He spoke very well and you could understand the majority of what he said. This was as sweet as could be except at the table. "I want more milk!" (always loudly and always with an exclamation mark) is not cute. Even on a two year old.
From the start, I always asked him to repeat after me, "Could I have some more milk please?" Time after time after time after time. One year later, he (usually) says, "I want more milk ... Please."
We work on thank you and I always reply with "You're welcome", so they have learned that too. As time went on, I suggested, "Yes please" and "No thank you" to the ever-increasing vocabulary of manners and gratitude.
A year later, my one-year-olds are talking and absorbing the world around them like a sponge. Our lunch time has evolved from grunts, motions and body language into an English-speaking table of small people. When my one-turning-two-year-olds were capable, I started 'withholding second helpings' until they said please first.
It took a little bit of determination but "Pees!" eventually became the expected response. Which has evolved to "Yes please" and "No thank you". Personally, I find nothing sweeter than unprompted manners that fall off the tongue of a small child.
One of my two-year-olds has confused the usage of "Thank you" with "You're welcome". This is completely logical if you think about it. Each and every time she heard the words "Thank you", they were always followed with "You're welcome". So every time I prompted her to say "Thank you", she always responded with "You're welcome".
I hear the kids utilize their good manners within themselves. My heart soars when I hear a small child say "Excuse me" as they squeeze by someone else. "Please" and "thank you" when they are exchanging and negotiating toys amongst themselves equals cuteness to the nth degree in my books. Then when my little one who has confused thank you, with you're welcome comes out with an unprompted "You're welcome!" (in lieu of thank-you)? I'm in kid-heaven.
My little You're Welcome Girl has developed an additional habit of cuteness-of-the-manner-kind. One doesn't realize how often you ask a child something that is really not a question until they answer you. I must do this all of the time because You're Welcome Girl answers me with a sweet little "No thank you". Are you ready for bed? "Mmmm ... no thank you". Let's pick up the toys ... "No thank you". Can you give someone else a turn on the computer "No thank you". It is the sweetness in her voice and the innocence of her words that melts through my gruff exterior. And the others are catching on.
Good manners are contagious. Good manners open doors. Good manners show appreciation and respect. Good manners sound good on all of us. I am honored to be a part of this evolution of manners. I believe it is a good foundation to build on.
Good manners are only the beginning. The evolution of kindness has already begun ...