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The Many Perks of Manners



JB and I both agree that we want to instill good manners in our children. We were both raised with an emphasis on pleases and thank yous - and generally speaking respectfully. I think those skills have served us well and we'd like to pass them on. We are aware of all the benefits that come with having good manners (social, professional, etc.) and would like Leo and bug to reap those benefits.

Now that Leo is at the point where pleases and thank yous are coming naturally and he only needs the occasional nudge, I've been surprised at how much *I* appreciate hearing them. It really improves the quality of my day much more than I ever expected.

Hearing "Thank you for the diaper, mama" and "May I please have some water, mama" is so, so, so nice. Especially when compared to nothing or the shaking of a cup in my direction with just the word "Water!" repeated over and over. I didn't think anything of it before, but now with the change I'm surprised at how much more pleasant our days are.

It's not just the pleases and thank yous either. Leo has also become (and I mostly credit JB with this because she models it so regularly — not just with Leo, but with everyone in her life) generous with compliments and vocalizing positive re-enforcement.  Some of the best things I've heard this week?

  • "Mmmmm.  Mama, this sandwich is delicious." 
  • "Good job, Mama!  Good catch with the ball!"
  • "Mama so pretty!"
  • "Whoa, Mama really strong!" 

I do realize that most 2-year-olds think their mom is the prettiest, smartest, strongest, best of everything. I do also know that my pb&j-making and catch abilities are average at best. I also know that I'm large, swollen, and not looking my best and that picking up a small chair is not a great feat of strength. Still, it always makes me smile wide to hear his kind words. They can really turn my day around.

Perhaps most importantly it's validation and a reminder how important it is to talk to our children kindly and with respect. If I, as an adult, feel so much happier and more valued when a TODDLER reminds me that he loves and appreciates me — how vital must it be to a small developing person trying to understand their role in this world.  

I know I'm not perfect at this — and I'm also not saying we should never provide critical feedback to each other. I just am reminded that saying what you have to say, no matter what that might be, kindly can make all the difference. 

Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of one and one-on-the-way. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.

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