There is an African proverb that says ‘Ligotshwa lisemanzi’ – often narrowly interpreted and directly translated to the English saying of ‘nip it in the bud,’ but this African proverb is more elaborate than that.
‘Ligotshwa lisemanzi’ uses a metaphoric explanation of shaping one’s character while they’re still young, as you would a young tree – it is best to bend and shape it while the branches are still green and moist. Whereas nipping it in the bud, has a negative connotation to it – like just stopping a bad habit before it is too late.
So how do we teach our little ones to say Please and Thank you? Researchers say that children learn more through modeled behavior. Yep, monkey see, monkey do – Do you say, “Thank you to the cashier at the grocery store or the car guard when you drive off?” Do you say, “Please when you ask for something from your partner or helper?” The best lessons are learned through observation and practice. When I give my daughters food or anything, I insist that they say thank you. When they request for something, I reiterate that they begin their request with the magic word ‘Please.’ My eldest daughter (7), through years of practice finally has it and even though it has become second-nature to her, she still sometimes forgets, and I quickly remind her. The younger one (3) is getting there, but she too – demands that you say please and thank you to her when you ask her to do something. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so it has to become a family virtue, everyone in the household has to use these magic words.
Many people struggle to experience abundance in their lives only because they do not have an attitude of gratitude. These people are always complaining about what they do not have, always comparing themselves to others. This can often lead to jealousy, depression and leave you feeling like a failure. Practicing gratitude daily can cause you to feel blessed and fulfilled. Many of the world’s most successful people, practice gratitude daily. ‘What we thank about, we bring about.’ Which means the more thankful we are, the more we have to be grateful for. Saying please and thank you are great virtues, best learned as soon as the child can speak. Remember, they may appear not to be listening, but they are always watching and mimicking every good and bad habit, so nip it in the bud. Ligotjwa lisemanzi, ngoba lingakhula lizobese liyaphuka.
So as we continue speaking to our little ones with kindness, always remember to say “please” and “thank you” to them too.