In my quest to teach my child respect and manners, I started early. Really, really early. Like, pre-verbal early.
One of the first signs I taught him was "please", followed by "thank you". Even if he couldn't use words, he could show courtesy to those around him. The last thing I would want is for him to think it's acceptable to run around demanding things from others willy nilly! And as you know, toddlers are some of the neediest and whiniest folks out there. His brief stint at daycare resulted in him picking up a few signs. Specifically, he learned how to ask for "more" - but instead of using it exclusively for "more", it transitioned into "want". He'd point at something, make the sign for more, and then look at your expectantly.
I'll be honest and say I'm probably more easily annoyed by kids demanding things from me than the next person. Why? Not sure. Maybe it's because I'm a mouthy rebel myself. More likely, it's because my years and years of customer service, serving, and retail labor opened my eyes to how rude the average person can be. ESPECIALLY if they feel that the person they're speaking to is somehow beneath them! Not a good look, people. Not. A. Good. Look.
Back to my own toddler: it wasn't long before he started using words and actually saying the word, "Please!" It was one of his first consistently used words, and at first it sounded like he wanted to tell you a secret. "Psssst!" Even now, well over a year later, he still says "Pweez" - not really a true "Please". He's not perfect, lest you think I have birthed a living human-angel. No, no. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times he's said please AND thank you for something without being prompted.
Pretty early only he caught on to using the word "Please" as an indicator that he wanted something and needed adult help or attention to get it. But "Thank You"? It's like pulling teeth. The kid thinks he can just skip off happily with whatever it is he's begged for (likely some sort of food) without acknowledging the effort that I put in to retrieve it for him. It's not that I expect mothering to be a job where I am constantly showered with gratitude. HA! HAHAHA! Ha. No, I'm insistent on him using "the magic words" because I do expect him to acknowledge when others help him. He is not owed their assistance, and he needs to recognize that.
I cannot explain to you how mind-numbing it is to go through the same routine Every. Single. Time. my two-year-old asks for something. "Shepard, say please. You have to say please, Shep. Say, 'Please give me the marshmallow.' Shep. Shep. Look at me. Please. Give. Me. The. Marshmallow. Good job! Ok, here you go! Now say 'Thank you, mommy!' Say thank you. Or run away. Whatever." I'm not from the South, and he'd better be glad. He doesn't even have to worry about "Sir" and "Ma'am"! This is as basic as it gets, folks. Mind your Ps and Qs, Shep! Mama's on top of this one.
When did your little ones learn to say "Please" and "Thank you"? How did you teach them to be polite and courteous? I need your advice, mamas! Hit me up on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.