The True Meaning of Thank You: How to Teach Heartfelt Manners to Your Kids

When your child offers you food or a toy, respond with an enthusiastic, "Thank you!" to model good manners. When your child offers you food or a toy, respond with an enthusiastic, "Thank you!" to model good manners.

Parents beam when their children remember to say thank you or excuse themselves before interrupting an adult conversation.

At our learning centers, our teachers often use thank you to confirm positive behaviors. Manners are more than teaching kids how to use polite language.

Respect, kindness, and consideration are the core values of good manners—precisely the values that help your child develop healthy relationships for life.


So how can you connect words to positive feelings as your child grows? Read on!

  1. Start at birth. Begin to introduce simple words like thank you starting at birth. Speak these often and encourage your child to use them as soon as they begin talking.
  2. Be a good role model.  Children are the best copy cats in the world, and the most important interaction your child sees is the one between you and her. Give her an enthusiastic thank you when she offers you a toy (even as an infant) and remember to say excuse me when you have to interrupt her preschool play date, even if you are in a rush!
  3. Build awareness of feelings. Polite people are considerate of how other people feel. Build your child’s awareness of emotion by explaining his own feelings in simple language. You might say, “You feel mad because you can’t reach that toy. Mommy will get it for you to make you feel better.” When your child is around 18 months old, start to talk about the feelings of others. Characters in books make for great conversations about emotions.
  4. Raise a helper.  Give your child plenty of opportunities to help you—and then show your appreciation when he does. This can be as simple as bringing an empty cup to the kitchen sink. Talk about how you feel when your child helps you and encourage him to offer help to others whenever you see an opportunity.
  5. Work on impulse control. Before a child learns how to control her impulses, she may (inadvertently) be less than polite. If she wants a toy, for example, she may grab it from her sister’s hands. When your child is around two years old, you can expect her to control her impulses with your help, at least some of the time. Encourage her by saying things like, “Your friend is playing with that toy right now. Why don’t you play with this puzzle until it’s your turn?”

How does your child show kindness towards others? Share your story below!

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