Teaching our kids to say thank you

Growing up my parents drilled in us that we were to be respectful of adults and have good manners. We called adults Mr./Ms Last Name, answered yes ma’am/ sir, and always said please and thank you. I have found we haven’t been as strict with our kids so far, and there are some things we definitely need to work on.

With our daughter we’ve taken to having her call adults either Mr./Ms. First Name or Last Name, and we’ll continue that with our son. Lil’ J was good and learned how to say “please” and “thank-you” at a young age. We had a little lapse in saying “please” recently, but after a couple weeks of correcting I think we’re back on track.

My son however… *Sigh* … My son, I don’t know if it’s just that he can’t quite speak as well as his sister could (see the adorable video above of her spouting off all sorts of things at 19 months). Or if he just is refusing to be polite. I know you probably think I’m kidding, but really I have to wonder.

He can sign “more” “bath” and “eat” and he can tell me when he wants to play in the backyard, or get his shoes (that’s his favorite word, seriously). He can also communicate when he wants to leave and go “bye bye” or have a bottle. But when I try to get him to say “please” the closest thing that comes out is “PAR!” and that’s if I’m lucky. Usually he’ll just scream at me and I help him sign “please” before I give in.


If he can sign bath he can sign please, so I think this kid is just trying to get to me. He’s just too cute to stay mad at.

Saying “thank you” is a little better, but still not as often as I’d like it to be. One way I’ve been working on it is when we play “ball”. We roll it or pass it back and forth, and each time I ask him “please” before he hands it over, then say “thank-you” when he gives it to me. Every once in while he chimes in with some thank yous of his own and then I feel like all hope isn’t lost for my sweet little caveman.

Fun ideas to introduce our children to different ways to say thank you.

My daughter loves art, and writing letters to people, so I’m trying to incorporate more thank you letters into her repertoire. I let her choose if she wants to design her own using her card stock and stationery kits, or pick some out from our collection of cards. And like with my son, I try to be an example and tell her thank you, write her thank-you notes, and sit down with her to write my own letters for those who have helped me. Walking the walk is the best way to teach a lesson.

It would be beautiful if someday my kids can look back and remember us writing weekly thank-you notes together. How’s that for a legacy?


Hopefully some of these lessons will stick and I’ll raise some polite and thankful children. Maybe some day my son will even manage more than a pleasant grunt for “please.” It’s a work in progress, but I think we’ll get there.

How did you teach your children to say thank you?

Here are some more thank-you note ideas from Hallmark.

Fun ideas to introduce our children to different ways to say thank you.

This post was written as a part of an ongoing partnership with Hallmark. All opinions are my own.

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  1. wheb teaching my kids please and thank you i would have hem say please before anything and wouldnt give it to them until they said it or i helped them sign it. my daughter was a late talker and she had please and milk down pretty quickly as with my youngest son but he was talking way before she did. and i do not let them walk away from a “thank you” situation with out saying thank you and saying what they are thankful for. we also do a bedtime recap of everything they were thankful for that day 🙂

  2. I definitely think that your little guy will catch on. It seems to take boys a little bit longer to remember their manners without being prompted. It just came so natural for my daughter. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

  3. If you’re overly concerned with your son’s speech, ask your pediatrician about having him evaluated by a speech therapist. We’ve had kiddo’s at work start speech therapy when they were even younger than him <3 Never hurts to ask the docs opinion!

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