(Goblin is 31 months)
I think Goblin it quite a nice kid for his age, he is pretty good at sharing most of the time (although writing that down has probably jinxed it), he gives great hugs to people he knows, he likes the company of other kids and chats away to adults. But I have noticed that if he asks for something and doesn't say please people assume he is being bossy or rude - even if they know him. They seem to apply adult values instantly and pull a negative face, or even make comments like 'don't be greedy' or 'you're very demanding'.
The simple addition of the word 'please' into this sentence, even if the tone is identical, seems to completely change peoples perspective. Suddenly they are smiling and saying oh what a sweetie he is (well actually they usually say "what a sweetie she is', - see my post on his hair).
I find this reaction quite odd. People don't think he is being rude if he does a poop in their living room. They accept that he is a toddler and hasn't learned to use the toilet yet. So why do they think that if he doesn't use an arbitrary social convention correctly it is because he is being impolite rather than acting his age.
Some of my mummy friends started teaching their children to say please and thank you as soon as they started to talk. I didn't. I'd read something (which I can't find now) which suggested that it was not right to demand that your child adhered to social conventions like this. At the time this resonated, but now I think the post failed to distinguish between insisting and prompting/reminding/teaching. Now I think I should teach Goblin to say please and thank you at a young age. Not because I value the words please and thank you, and not because I want a polite child (or want others to think I have a polite child). But the words please and thank you grease the wheels of this society. If Goblin can learn these 'not so secret' codes early in his life, his life will be easier. I would never force Goblin to say the words. I don't withhold things if he refuses to say please. But I do stand behind him reminding him "don't forget to say thank you" and when he screams at me "chocolate milkshake" I do say "how do you ask for that nicely", to which he screams in my face "chocolate milkshake PLEASE" and I respond, "that's better!".
It feels odd. It doesn't sit comfortably with the rest of my parenting approach which tries to avoid the quick wins in order to help Goblin develop a more reflective approach where he chooses the right option for his own reasons rather than because 'Mummy will be cross if I don't'. But on this particular issue I think making my child life a little bit easier and ensuring he gets smiles rather than sneers from adults (especially the older generation) is worth a little compromise.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and whether you teach your little ones to say Please and Thank you?