Are Magic Words Just For Kids?

Recently, a parenting expert  declared, with great authority, that parents who want their children to comply with directives (such as clean your room or take out the trash) must refrain from using the magic words “please” and “thank you.”  Apparently,  using such niceties confuses children, who do not understand that they are being given a command, and thus conclude that complying is optional.

I’m not sure why this so-called expert believes our children are not capable of understanding the distinction between a request and a command.  Children have remarkable radar systems and are able to understand the tone of our voice before they have even processed our words.  So, yes, a “please feed the dog” uttered in a meek, pleading voice might not carry with it the weight of a forceful “please take your smelly shoes outside now!”  The fault lies not in the words themselves but in the tone with which they are offered.

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