I hate the phrase “magic words”. What’s magic about them? Does saying Please or Thank You automatically entitle someone to get whatever they want? I don’t think so…
We drill into toddlers from as soon as they can mumble to say Please & Thank You when they ask for or get something. It goes without saying that we have to teach our kids basic manners to function in a civilised society.
I don’t use “magic words” in my house though. I just call it manners. And I have to ask for manners about 50 times a day! It drives me nothing short of batty when small humans give endless, unrelenting demands from one end of the day to the next, and barely even look at you when they get it.
So I ask for manners. In response I usually get a half-hearted “Thanks”… mainly just said as a matter of procedure, and to get rid of me. I settle for it, because the day is too long to battle over everything.
“Please” comes more naturally, because they know it speeds up the process of getting what they want. Although I do have a 4 year old who still thinks it’s ok to just enter a room & bark “Tucs!” before walking out again and expecting me to follow with a plate loaded with crackers.
I don’t call them magic words. But the simple “Please” and “Thank You” do hold magical powers.
Hearing basic words of gratitude helps to alleviate that niggling feeling that you are merely a servant to the other members of the household. They are small tokens of appreciation for the time and effort you have put in to care for them in whatever small way.
A genuine Thank You is truly magic; one that you did not have to stand glaring at someone waiting to hear. It makes you feel that yes, this person really appreciates what I did for them. It has the power to lift you in a small way in the middle of a long day. It keeps you plodding on.
Having to ask for, or often demand simple manners makes the daily struggle with small kids even more draining. Yes I know they are only small, and they won’t be like this as adults (they better not be!) but it really is exhausting to be constantly giving and providing without even the smallest sign of gratitude in return.
So while the notion of “Magic Words” wrecks my head, the basic principle of manners and gratitude towards others is something that will forever be a basic expectation. It’s important not just for social etiquette, but also for the morale of the person who has given their time & effort.
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