Little Cat is sitting on the floor at his grandparents house, flitting between his brand new bright yellow rescue helicopter – A toy he has been coveting for the past twelve months – and the full sized keyboard passed down to him by his uncle. This week he is turning four years old and as with many four year old’s, he has been excited about his upcoming birthday for quite some time.
His first reaction to his presents when he opened them five minutes previously, was one of immense seriousness. He held the helicopter up to the camera before silently getting to work investigating all the levers and buttons propellers, just as he had been dreaming of doing every time he had seen it in its box in the shop.
Perhaps somewhat controversially, I didn’t encourage or even suggest he thank his relatives for his wonderful gifts. Instead, I took a few photographs and we sat back quietly, letting him explore them in his own time.
He explored the settings on the keyboard. He played some tunes. He showed his Daddy how the winch on his helicopter worked, and he chatted away to himself in glee.
His Nana got up to make a cup of tea for everyone and then came back and sat down on the sofa. As she did, Little Cat looked up at her and said without prompting:
“Thank you so much for my presents Nana! I like them too much!”
He got up and gave her a kiss and a cuddle, before returning to his new gifts.
So how did we manage to instil such beautiful manners in him? And more importantly, how did we do it without prompting, bribery or punishments?
Continue reading Children and Manners: How Can I Get My Child to Say Thank You?