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Dutchess_III's avatar

At what age do you think a child should be expected to say "please" when they want something?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42442points) December 30th, 2014

So I have a 14 month old here. She has a vocabulary of about 50 words and understands many more even if she can’t say them. She can say many of them upon request. She’ll nod “yes” or shake her head “no” if you ask if she wants something.
I think she’s old enough to learn “please” even if she doesn’t know why she has to say it, but her mother doesn’t think so. She said we need to wait until she’s older because she doesn’t understand what it means.
I mean, I’ll do whatever Mom wants, but what are your thoughts on this?

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42 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

3–4. My granddaughter, who was just 4, has been saying “please” and “thank you” for a year,

Dutchess_III's avatar

So you think she’s too young to have to say it, even though she is capable of saying it and capable of making the connection? Why do you think that?

elbanditoroso's avatar

At age 3, my granddaughter heard me (and her parents, and her older brother) use it, and she knew that it was proper human interaction.

I don’t think that a 14-month old (or even a 2–2½ year old) makes that sophisticated a connection.

hearkat's avatar

I think they should be prompted to say it from about 18–24 months, which is the typical age that a child reaches the developmental milestone of putting two words together to form mini-sentences. At that point, you’re just modelling it and they are parroting, but that is how the habit gets formed so they’re be using it fairly consistently once they reach the preschool years.

talljasperman's avatar

I knew 18 year olds who haven’t learned to say please and thank you.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I think you can start to say please when she asks for something to demonstrate she should do the same, but with the expectation that she is unlikely to use the word regularly yet.

janbb's avatar

I think 14 months is way too young to learn that. It has no meaning and there are more important concepts to be learning and exploring at that age.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think it matters much if she starts at 2,3 or 4. Children are constantly learning and being told what to do, the order at such young ages I don’t think makes a huge impact.

I’m more of a thank you person than a please person. I think they are both important, but I think the most important is acknowledging when someone has done something for you.

I’m around a 2 year old all the time and I could care less if she says please. 14 months seems very young. However, I do think she could probably understand that you say please when you want something. It depends how advanced she is with her vocabulary. Each child is different obviously.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I think 14 months is too young to impose the please & Thank You social grace. She’ll pick it up soon enough, I wouldn’t push it.

gondwanalon's avatar

As soon as they can speak.

longgone's avatar

I don’t think children need to be trained here. Making sure all adults around use the phrases, they’ll pick it up.

My parents never said that silly, “What’s the magic word?!”

livelaughlove21's avatar

14 months old is definitely too young for her to know what it means, so mom is right on that. I don’t think teaching a kid to say something for politeness before they even know what it means to be polite is all that important. No one is going to be offended that a 1-year-old doesn’t say “please.” Saying “please” and “thank you” just because adults are making you doesnt mean much, so why make them say it so young if it’s meaningless?

I’d say 3 years old is a good age to start teaching them, and if they pick it up on their own before then, great. By the time they hit preschool age, they should know what the words mean and when to use them.

Cupcake's avatar

There is a new(ish) school of thought here to not introduce social concepts before they are meaningful… such as manners and sharing.

Certainly your 14 month old example does not know what “please” means.

I only partly buy into this school of thought. My toddler learned to use the sign for please when he wanted things around 12 months of age. He eventually transitioned that into the word before he was 1–½ years old. He is almost 3 and still gets reminders to use his manners. I say please and thank you all day long every day but try to not be preachy. I do say things like “Can you please show me your manners when you ask that question?”... but if he’s about to have a tantrum, I let him be. I feel stronger about not making babies and toddlers share… but that’s off topic. No kid will feel traumatized or unsupported by being reminded to use manners. Nagged, maybe.

I don’t think there is harm either way, as long as the manners are taught at some point (before public school?).

Dutchess_III's avatar

@livelaughlove21 @Cupcake, So exactly what does “please” mean? There is no real definition for it.

Thing is, she’s old enough to make connections. Yesterday she started using the word “cracker,” for the first time, in order to ask for a cracker.

Yeah, she’s mimicking everything, so why not “please” once she makes the connection that she’ll get what she wants right away?

I appreciate your answers. The thing is, at this point, her way of asking for something is to point at it and scream! I’m just not going to reward that, and I’m trying to figure out how she can make a different connection.

Trying to remember when my kids were little. Pretty sure I just said “Please” for them, until they picked it up on their own, probably about 2.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you think teaching her to point and say “Yes,” rather than pointing and screaming, would work?

hearkat's avatar

Pointing and screaming is a different issue than saying “Please”. As I mentioned, the development of the ability to put two words together (e.g. “Mommy up”, “Red ball”, “More juice”) to form mini-sentences doesn’t occur until 18–24 months. Pointing and screaming is because she doesn’t know the words she wants, so the best thing to do is again to model the words for her… for example: “I see you’re pointing to the green sippy cup. Oh, it’s empty. Are you thirsty? Would you like some water? [shakes her head, or says no] No, you don’t want water? What would you like? [give her a moment to try to find the word, if she gets frustrated make another suggestion] Would you like some milk?” etc.

Just using a lot of words and basically thinking aloud around kids is enough to help most of them learn the sound-symbol association. If she seems to be struggling with it, you may want to have her speech/language skills tested, but based on your descriptions she seems to be doing pretty well. Eventually, you’ll prompt her to use her words once she’s shown that she’s learned them, but it’s still pretty early even for that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, @hearkat, ” Pointing and screaming is because she doesn’t know the words she wants…” that is exactly what I’m trying to do, give her the word she needs to get what she wants. One word that will fit all situations.

Well, I backed off it. I’ve just been saying it for her as I hand her whatever. However, just now she went and stood in front of the computer, which means she wants to see videos of the twins, and she said, “Ease?” So that was good.

hearkat's avatar

“One word that will fit all situations.” does not actually fit all situations, though. Pointing and saying “please” and being handed what she wants does not help her increase her vocabulary. Just as a reminder, my Bachelor’s Degree is in Speech Pathology

Here is some information for her developmental stage: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/12.htm. With the increase in electronics and kids getting more ‘screen time’, they are getting less interactive language exposure like what I mentioned above.

Dutchess_III's avatar

As long as we are talking to her in normal sentences, and in the way you describe (which we do) we’re improving her vocabulary. Teaching her “please” isn’t going to hurt her vocabulary.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Her older sister is 3. If she says, “I want some milk!” Dad will level a look at her and she’ll say, “May I please have some milk.” :D

hearkat's avatar

My point was that if she learns that she’ll get whatever she points to by just saying please she’s not learning the proper words. But I agree, if she points and says “please” and you still do all that modeling, she is learning the same.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Anything but the screaming!

cazzie's avatar

We have a system at the daycare I work at. I’m currently working with a group of 1 and 2 year olds. All the children are expected to express manners, even if they can’t speak very well yet. They are taught to knock on the table three times and then point to what they want. The three knocks represent the polite way of asking for something, ‘Kan jeg få?’ (may I have) They gradually start saying the words as they knock on the table and soon stop knocking all together and use their words. They also have to say politely that they are done eating and to ask to leave the table. To indicate this, they clap their hands three times. That is to represent the words, ‘Takk for mat.’ (thanks for the food). They gradually say the words and clap, and then drop the clapping all together.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Nice @cazzie. That’s my whole point. I think she is fully capable of quietly saying some word, ANY word, or, as you said, making some quiet gesture to get what she wants, rather than the demanding scream.

AshlynM's avatar

I don’t really think they should wait until they’re old enough to understand. The sooner you can start teaching them to be polite the better.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree @AshlynM. Kids learn not to do certain things, like run out in the street, before they’re old enough to understand why.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III The two aren’t really comparable. We teach children not to run into the street so they don’t get hit by a car and die. We teach them to say “please” because social convention tells us that’s the polite thing to do. There’s really no reason for them to say it until they have some idea of the concept of being polite. There’s no harm in teaching them to do it even though they don’t know the reason, I suppose, but there’s not much of a benefit to it either.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just trying to replace the demanding scream with something else. It’s for my benefit.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Then go for it.

janbb's avatar

I think nouns are central to early language development rather than helper words but go for it if you insist. I prefer hearkat’s suggestions above.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She’s learning nouns! A kid can’t help but learn nouns. She can say cracker, and Bubba and Mommy. She can even say Vanta. (Rick goes, “She can say Vanta but she can’t say Grampa?!!”)

JLeslie's avatar

I think you can teach her to substitute her screams with the word please as long as you are responding to the please. It’s like Pavlov’s dog. She doesn’t need to understand the word like we do, she just knows cause and effect. If it works she will most likely do it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right. And when she does use it, which she has a couple of times, I respond instantly. If she just grunts and screams I delay.

JLeslie's avatar

The tricky thing is she is so young she still will scream sometimes, obviously, because she simply doesn’t have a large enough vocabulary. She will use please where wouldn’t, or without enough explanation for what she wants, most likely and get frustrated when it doesn’t work for some things.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right. But I needen’t be militant about it. Slowly show her that “Please” (whatever version) works a lot faster than screaming.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! She’s started tricking me! She’ll run to the middle of the living room, pretending she wants a diaper change. I’ll get the wipes, and the new diaper, and drop them on the floor. As I’m starting to sit down cross legged she’ll jump up, grab the clean diaper and throw it in the trash, then grin at me! Booger!

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, so that one already has a sense of humor.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! Well, she’s around me a lot so…. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

And her dad has a great sense of humor. Which he got from me. Which I got from my Dad. Which he got from his Dad.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Break through. One of the videos of the Twins is called “Tootles.” It’s a really short one of Kale, with a bottle in his mouth. His mom says, “Oh Tootles!” And he says, “Too t les!” It’s really cute. Now when she wants to watch the videos she says “Tootles!” and so we watch videos. Works for me!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I can’t believe I found this question! The child in this question is almost 3 now. But…she has a 15 month old baby brother. When ever brother indicates he wants something I say, “Please?” .... he can’t say the word yet, but he has the cadence down and he’ll mimic that, starting low and rising up with a question mark sound on the end. He’s started using that cadence instead of just grunting! Good enough for me. :D

Also, a couple of weeks ago I had changed his diaper. After I was finished, and he was lying there, I tickled his tummy. He grinned and handed me a wipe I had given him to distract him during the diaper change. I took it, then handed it back and we grinned. After a couple of times big sister came and sat down by us and we were all three passing the wipe around…..when the baby handed it to sister she said, “Thank you!” to him! Just put me to shame! There was a teachable moment that I almost let slip by. So sister and I always said, “Thank you!” while the baby watched us carefully.

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