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July 22, 2012


Demonstrate the power choice 

What it is


Saying ‘please’ is more than meeting social expectations; it’s the attitude of gratitude and appreciation from which your child automatically operates.

Why it's Important

“Please, may I . . .” is the beginning of gift giving and receiving.  It’s the request that creates the opportunity for the giver to feel good about giving.  Without these few words the whole thing feels like an entitled demand.

The Problem

Do as I say.  Adults often forget to demonstrate the attitude of gratitude and appreciation when speaking with kids.  “Pass the salt.”  “Stop arguing.”  “Take the garbage out.”  We feel entitled to demand compliance; it is our house, you know, but kids absorb attitudes (habits of thinking) by what they see and feel, not by how we tell them to behave.  By not giving kids the opportunity to feel good about giving, we missing the opportunity to make good on a parenting promise: 

“I promise to show you how to give and receive generously.”

The Tip

Ask as a Question

Step 1

Pick a small area of interaction in which you often make requests of your kids.  Perhaps meal times, in the car, or garbage day.

Step 2


Consciously ask questions with ‘please.'  “Please, may I have the salt?” “Please may I have less arguing between you?” “Please, will you take the garbage out?"

   Demands with Candy-Coating

Just inserting ‘please’ isn’t enough.  “Please pass the salt.” “Stop arguing, please.”  Without asking a question, ‘please’ just makes the demand a sweeter pill.

Step 3


Observe the differences.  Note the responses you receive from your kids when requests are questions vs. candy-coated demands. Are your kids more willing to do as you ask when they feel they are giving?  I’ll bet yes.



I’ll give much more to those who ask my help than to those who demand it.  Your kids will, too.


Frustration is caused by unmet expectations.  Adults operating with entitlement might trigger push-back from kids who are flexing independence muscles.  Defuse the flexing by offering kids the opportunity to choose and to give.


The way to teach intangible skills is to create an environment that allows kids to watch, practice, and to learn for themselves.


Leaders are granted their role by those who choose to follow.  By acknowledging your child’s power of choice, you create a way for her to follow.

Related Articles:  Tip First, What NOT to Expect When You’re Expecting,

Related Tip of the Week: Manners, Self-Evaluate, Articulate 


Demonstrate the power of choice 

Chime in >> What do you think?

  Email Lorraine with your question


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