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“I Already Have One of These!” – Teaching children how to respond politely

by Elizabeth Pantley

I just attended a friend’s child’s birthday party and was shocked by the responses the child gave as he opened his gifts. “I already have one of these.” “This isn’t the one I wanted.” After I was done judging this “nasty” child, I suddenly realized that the holiday is fast approaching, and realized my own daughter would be just as capable of making some of these comments! How can I prevent this rudeness from happening?

Think about it:
Children are not born knowing how to politely respond to gifts, and in their childlike honesty can say some pretty rude things. The easiest way to prevent this is through teaching.

Have a training session prior to the expected gift giving (before Grandma arrives at your house). Review the possible situations. “What would you say if you get something you already have – like another Monopoly game?” “What should you say if you get something you don’t like at all?” And even, “What should you say if it’s something you like?” It’s amazing what wonderful results occur with a bit of practice.

Give private corrections:
Even though your child’s comment appears rude and thoughtless, it never helps to embarrass your child in front of the gift-giver. If an impolite comment is made, simply excuse yourself and your child, go to a private place and point out the error. Suggest something nice to say, and return to your guest allowing your child to save face.

Have you been doing enough training? If your child isn’t aware that his comments are inappropriate it’s a sign that you could do a bit more training about manners. This situation may be an indication that there are other areas where your child could benefit from education about appropriate manners.

Copyright Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

About the Author:
Elizabeth Pantley is the author of several books, including
Gentle Baby Care : No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry — Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby, The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, Kid Cooperation (with an introduction by William Sears, MD), Perfect Parenting, as well as her latest The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers and is also president of Better Beginnings, Inc. She is a popular speaker on family issues, and her newsletter, Parent Tips, is seen in schools nationwide. She appears as a regular radio show guest, and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Working Mother, and Woman’s Day magazines. Visit Elizabeth’s web site

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