It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Good Manners 101

Attention, Parents!!!

“Get me some water,” is abominably rude. Pour water on this child.

“I want more water,” is rude. Do not give water to this child.

“I want more water, please.” This is not polite. This is just an order with a please tacked on to soften the blow. Do NOT give water to this child.

“I’m thirsty,” is merely information. Do not give water until asked nicely. What are you, the maid?

“May I have some water, please?” Ah… much better. This child may have some water.

Thank you.

January 1, 2006 - Posted by | manners, parenting


  1. I agree!

    My poor son has taken to overdoing it a bit though. He now says something to the effect of “Um, please, may I have some water please?”

    No harm covering all the bases son!

    Comment by Andie D. | January 1, 2006 | Reply

  2. Amen. They say I want some water, I say “excuse me?” or sometimes “would you rephrase that please?”

    Demands don’t work well with me, whether from kids or adults.

    Of course they get their own water now but it applies to everything.

    Comment by Granny | January 1, 2006 | Reply

  3. I’m with you. Although if a very young child is in my home and says, “I’m thirsty,” I would probably reply with, “Would you like a drink of water?” to which I would expect a, “Yes, please.”

    Comment by Cheryl | January 1, 2006 | Reply

  4. So right. And they’re never too young to learn this . . .

    Comment by MIM | January 1, 2006 | Reply

  5. K says “wa-wa, please”, but that’s about all she can manage right now and I make B get his own, ’cause that boy relies way too much on adults to do everything for him (including not eating unless I put a fork in front of him). My favourite response to him is “do you have two legs? do they work?” I usually don’t make it to the second question anymore!

    Comment by Angela | January 1, 2006 | Reply

  6. Andie: Better one too many than none at all! One of my stepkids used to do that, too, much to the entertainment of her siblings, who’d mimic her, with exaggeration: “Please may I please have some water, please? Please?” It was not mean-spirited teasing and she liked it, so we let it go because, after all, everyone was practicing, weren’t they??

    Granny: It starts simple, with a glass of water, and, if the training doesn’t begin there, the demands continue on forever. I have a friend whose 22-year-old son just smashed up his car. The synopsis of their resultant conversation follows.

    Son: Mom, I smashed up my car.
    Mom: I’ll pay for the repairs.
    Son: Mom, I need a car to drive.
    Mom: You can have mine. I’ll car-pool to work.

    Two days later:
    Son: Mom, I smashed up your car.

    She’s a smart, smart woman, but not, evidently, when it comes to her son.

    Cheryl: Of course you have to take their language abilities into account, and your way of guiding them into appropriate manners is dead on. If a small child comes to me and says, “I’m thirsty.” I’ll prompt: “How do you ask?” For teeny ones, a “Wattah, pees”, or even just, “pees”, is perfectly acceptable.

    Mim: Never. Even with pre-verbal ones, you’re always modelling the behaviour, and as soon as they can lisp a word or two, they can manage “P’ees”.

    Angela: Yes, the examples I’m giving are for verbally capable tots; as you’re teaching K, the expectation is always there.

    Ah, the passive child. I’ve had three year olds who expected me to spoon-feed them! Just as well they’re in my house before they hit school, I figure…

    Comment by Mary P. | January 2, 2006 | Reply

  7. Damn right.

    the reply I make to “I want some water” is; “do you?” that tends to make them think a bit. If they are old enough, you can use; “do you, oh, would you get me a glass too please”

    My kids learned to use please & thank you from pretty much before they could talk – even mstr A:-) And visitors soon work it out.

    Comment by Mrs.Aginoth | January 2, 2006 | Reply

  8. MrsA: LOL. Once they know the drill, an “I’m thirsty” often gets just exactly that from me, too. Or “Oh, that’s too bad.” I’ve never thought to ask the older ones to get me a drink while they’re at it, though! Brilliant.

    Comment by Mary P. | January 2, 2006 | Reply

  9. Have you been spying in our house? We’ve been working on the manners lately, so this is still fresh in my mind!

    And when told “I’m thirsty”, I tend to reply “hello thirsty, I’m daddy” and that helps steer us into a teachable moment where I can explain the ol’ “please may I …”

    Comment by Simon P. Chappell | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  10. I’ve done that one, too! I forgot about it when I was composing the blog because I haven’t used it in a while, but it’s a good one. Gets the point across and makes the child laugh all at the same time.

    Comment by Mary P. | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  11. […] object, I really, really object to a child imparting what is in fact information, and expecting me to leap into […]

    Pingback by Would you, could you, please? « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | September 19, 2012 | Reply

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