I have been blessed with some extraordinary children. Four of them. As a result, people are always asking me what I did, or how I rasied them. (I swear I’m not really bragging, just stating the facts.)
A few weeks ago a buddy of mine, who is a brilliant female boxer, asked me about her little girl, a beautiful, smart wild-child four year old.
I gave Kim the details on method for training little kids just like dogs. My kids have have great manners,they say please and thank you All The Time, because I trained them to respond to hand signals, just like a German Shepard .
If we are checking out of Wal-Mart and I want Sandor to say “thank you” to the cashier I catch his attention and touch my nose with one finger. That means “say thank you.” If I touch my chin that mean “say please” and if I cross my arms and make an X he knows I’m saying “no whinning”.
I do not remember how or when I came up with this system but I can tell you why it works.
When I touch my nose and Sandor suddenly says “Thank you” to the cute girl/cashier at Dairy Queen, she smiles at him says, “your welcome and boy do you have nice manners!” little kids love being complimented, they love attention, so she re-enforces my lesson. He’s proud and happy becasue the cute girl is impressed.
Little kids are pretty smart animals. They figure out they are often times rewarded for having good manners. When Lexie was little bitty, the lady who owned our grocery store gave her a piece of candy everytime she said thank you or please. It’s a win win situation. And because I never verbally remind the kids to say please or thank you adults are completely blown away.
Pretty soon it’s just a habit, that makes everyone happy.
So, my friend Kim was so happy to report today that she and her daughter have mastered the hand signals. And it’s working out perfectly. The truth is her daughter loves her and loves making her happy and this is just another fun way to get the job done. Hand signals are silly so the “good manners” program is fun instead of lame and boring. And parents don’t have to repeat themselves hundreds of times or say the ubiquitious, “what do you say now James?”
Now, if I could just teach my dog to stop sleeping in the dirty clothes pile.