Helping children learn to be polite is very important to many parents. Words like “thank you” and “please” may often be just as important as helping little ones say names of objects and actions. The concept of “please” is usually fairly simple to understand and parents are happy to fulfill their little one’s requests as long as that word is attempted or added. The concept of “thank you” can be harder to grasp as it is something we expect toddlers to say AFTER we have already given them that highly desired item.
One especially helpful aspect of Thanksgiving is that it comes right after Halloween which means many toddlers have been recently motivated by candy to say “thank you” -many times! If they haven’t actually said “thank you” they’ve at least seen people receiving candy and heard others say “thank you” so little ones have learned the importance of saying these words.
This leads me to the first, and most important, way to teach little ones: SHOW THEM by doing it yourself! When your little one hands you an object, say “thank you”. When they give you a hug, say “thank you”. When they help clean up, say “thank you”. Look for opportunities to thank them throughout each day.
The specific speech requirements for producing “thank you” accurately are fairly advanced so expect that your little one’s first attempts may sound something like: “tay oo” or “dank you” or “kak you”. Don’t worry so much about the “th” sound… that will come later.
Enlisting the help of older siblings is also a fantastic way to teach any word or concept! Encourage the older sibling to say THANK YOU clearly when giving out any toys, foods, or objects to all children present.
Before your child is talking, signing can be a great way to communicate “thank you”. Teach your little one to thank others with a gesture (of course smiles and hugs are also great ways to show thanks!) For a video clip, go to:
One of my favorite ways to teach almost any word is through songs! Yes, there are lots of videos for kids online with songs but the ones YOU sing and encourage your child to sing with you…in the car, on a walk, in the checkout line of a store, etc…have more of an impact as they are more interactive! Slow the down song to help elongate those vowel sounds, sing it loudly to place emphasis or show excitement, sing quietly to increase attention, or insert the child’s name to make it personal. Take any tune you know and change the words to use “thank you” repeatedly!
If you have “Baby Shark” on repeat in your head, just change the words:
“Thank you, mom… doo doo doo doo doo doo” (etc. etc. etc)
Change the “Happy Birthday” song:
“I like to say Thank YOU… I like to say Thank YOU… When I help out my mommy… She likes to say Thank YOU”
For more song suggestions and a printable version of this blog post, go to: FREE Handouts you can print out
Want to teach “thank you” in play? Use any toy that has pieces or parts and each time your child hands you a puzzle piece, potato head part, or block for stacking; respond with nothing else but “thank you”. Repeat. Always repeat!
(This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I may potentially earn a small fee based on qualifying sales.)
And yes, another opportunity to practice Thank You is quickly approaching… Christmas! If you are looking for gift ideas be sure to check out: Toys That Do Nothing, Top 5 NON-toy Toys, and Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!
Make sure you like and follow my Facebook page so you don’t miss any of my speech and language tips and play ideas.
“Thank you” for reading and sharing. I appreciate it! 😊 Thank YOU! Thank YOU!