Friday, February 24, 2012

Should we say "thank you" to children?

I heard once on a radio show that parents should not say "thank you" or "good girl/boy" when a child does something they were told to do. The host said children should know their place, perform their duties, and listen without expecting a reward. Show them who's boss.

It made sense at the time.

Then I learned how to horseback ride. And I was told whenever the horse listened to a command, we were to say, "Good girl!"

Then I learned how to train a dog. And I was told to say, "Good job!" or "Good girl!" whenever the dog listened.

Know that I am not comparing my Little Olive to a horse but that I am comparing methods of teaching. Why on earth should I thank a horse but not my own offspring? We say "thank you" and give positive reinforcement to let a horse and a dog know they just did the right thing. We want that behavior to be repeated.

In my extremely knowledgeable 2.5 years experience of parenthood, I think this makes sense, and I've seen firsthand it makes a difference. For example, before nap time today, Little Olive was being very stubborn about putting away her toys. I repeated myself so many times and reworded my directions to give her clear steps: "Pick up the green block, and put it in the blue bin." Over and over and over again. She was testing me for sure. But finally --- she did it! I was very frustrated but managed to say, "Thank you. Now pick up the red block, and put it in the blue bin too." Her expression actually changed when she heard me saying, "thank you" - and she quickly listened this time around. I'm not saying I know all the answers, but I'm happy this works!


Natalie said...

Yes, I agree. :) My kids pick up on me saying, "Thank you," and they quickly learn to say it to other people without me even having to remind them... usually, anyway. ;) It is so precious when they are playing with each other and I overhear them thanking each other for sharing or whatever. We say "thank you" to the cashier at the store or the receptionist at an office because it's polite to do so, even though they are "just" doing their jobs. To me, it's common sense... treat our children the way we want them to treat other people... with kindness, respect, and - yes - thanks.

ElaineLK said...

It's a nice lesson to teach your children!

i.ikeda said...

I say "thank you" to N. all the time! I figured I have to lead by example. I just don't see how saying thank you is going to undermine my authority with her. Imo, authority has to be paired with respect and love, otherwise it only works temporarily.

And yeah, can you believe it? N. is excited about being a big sister, but I'm terrified of the transition. I hope she'll be ok with it and not get too jealous. And I love your new blog header! Your children are truly advanced.... ;)

Arlee Bird said...

Positive reinforcement is very important and quite effective when appropriately given. I've learned the importance of this not only in parenting, but also as a manager. My employees showed greater loyalty and worked harder when they knew I was pleased and they felt reaffirmed in the work they did.

As a note to your comment on my blog, did you know that you have the Captcha on your comments?

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