I recently did a survey on the EtiKids website. The question was “do you make children say please when you ask for something?” Out of the responses, 58.3% said they do “all of the time.” 16.7% said “not as often as I should,” and 25% had other answers, including, “I will when I have a child!” and “Yes- but they are not my children…” 0% of the people said never!

The word “please” is to be used when you want something: to ask rather than to demand. That “magic word,” as it is often referred to for children, changes the tone of the sentence. An ultimatum begins to resemble a request, and the demeanor between the involved parties relaxes. A person is more willing to get the job done (with far less under-the-breath muttering) should that word be included.

The results of this poll should show just how hard it is to enforce that 1 word into daily vocabulary. Although it is amazing that more than half of the pollers are diligent about regularly enforcing the use of the word please, the 16.7% were brutally honest in their “not as often as I should” answers.

From an article on Parents Connect, Nanny Stella gives great advice for teaching children to use the word please (and thank you) in 3 steps: “1) show by example, 2) praise the pleases, and 3) be a broken record.”

Children truly learn from behavior being modeled, meaning, they learn by watching those around them. Control the market by showing them the behaviors that you want them to exhibit in public. If you want a child to hand you the cup of water instead of spill it, you should say, “Please hand me the water.” When the child uses the language on his/her own, praise him/her repeatedly. Positive reinforcement, is a highly effective way to teach children behaviors that you wish for them to continue without negative repercussions. Finally, if the child doesn’t use the word please, do not provide them with what they want until the magic word is said. For children, their new language can become innate with a bit of consistent practice. They will get it.

Children love challenges, so provide them the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Count how many people said, “please” when they asked for something, whether in a restaurant, in a classroom, in a store. Let the kids listen for the magic word, and let them watch people’s reactions when it is and is not used. Children can learn from their own recognition skills: why politeness matters.

Please is the most basic of social etiquette; the politeness displayed by the courtesy will open doors with its usage. Teaching children this social skill at a young age will ensure mastery and give them the tools to succeed as grownups.





Please. That word is music to my ears. Seriously, when ANYONE asks me for something, but includes the word please, I admit that I am much more willing to go the extra mile. Perhaps it is the fact that what one wants seems to be a request than a demand.

Since you were old enough to speak, it wasn't what was said but HOW it was said. If a boss said "give me the reports," I bet you would be much less enthusiastic than if it was phrased "please give me the reports by the end of the day." Having the courtesy to include the word please is very much appreciated by people. Wanting to feel valued in and how a task is done, "please" feels like you are being asked, and you are given a CHOICE.

By offering a choice to someone, you are giving them the opportunity to provide their input. When dealing with a child, which phrase do you think will work better: "you are wearing the red shirt today" or "which shirt do you want to wear today, the red or the blue?" Allowing the child some independence by providing him/her the ability to make a decision will reduce the amount of stress and anxiety during dressing. Controlled choices (or chosen choices) are the clear winners in present-day parenting methods. After all, your child is a mini-you, and if you like choices (and the opportunity to speak your mind!), you can bet your child feels the same way.

The same is true with the word please. If you offer someone a controlled choice by asking for something with the word please, you will be amazed at the outcome. So just for today, take note of how many times you ask for something, and how many times you said please... You will be surprised at how many moments are missed to improve the rapport between you and the person you are making a request of.

That being said, it is time to ensure that children are using the magic word to ask for something they want. With just a little bit of coaching, the word please can become a regular part of the child's vocabulary, which will in turn make dealing with the said child much more pleasant. If we don't want them to become those grownups who constantly order others around and have little success with interpersonal relationships, it is time to crack down now. Please.