Changing tactics

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Last night I asked myself what the relationship is between the socially-necessary utterances (please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry, etc.) and the feelings they’re meant to stand for.  How does one teach one’s children about humility, gratitude, respect, regret?  How does emphasizing the manners associated with those feelings inflect how they are experienced as genuine emotion?

Put simply: am I squeezing all the gratitude from a situation by nagging Akiva to say please and thank you?  How can I stop?

I’m going to try modeling gratitude and see what happens.  It’ll probably do me some good too.

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3 thoughts on “Changing tactics

  1. No, you are not squeezing gratitude from a situation. You’re teaching your child good manners, which he will need to survive and thrive in this world.

    I don’t know about Akiva, but I don’t think Brian, my own little 4-year-old, is really capable of truly understanding gratitude, forgiveness, etc. completely just yet. Do I still make him (and Timmy, nearly 3 years old) say thank you and I’m sorry anyway? You bet.

    I think it comes down to this, in general: when is genuine emotion important, and when is politeness important? There’s a time to be genuine and there’s a time to be polite. Sometimes they line up, but not always. In those situations, one has to choose. But not too many little kids have the emotional maturity to do that rationally. (Sometimes adults don’t either!)

    Modeling gratitude never hurts, either. 🙂

  2. anna v

    My dsd was taught not to express gratitude unless she truly felt it. In my house she learnt that we express gratitude for other people’s efforts even if we don’t appreciate the results.

    However I don’t make my kids say sorry unless it is genuine and heartfelt. There’s nothing worse than an insincere sowweee! and you know damn well that nothing is going on in their brain WRT remorse or thinking it through, they are just chanting the appropriate phrase.

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