I took the three rascals (Lauren 6, Luke 4, Claire 10 months) to breakfast at the local iHOP this morning to give mom a break. As we were driving in, I flashed back to a previous breakfast and how the kids handn’t thanked the waitress who brought our meals. Doh! Its my fault – not the kids. We don’t eat out that often, so the thank-the-waiter behavior hasn’t been reinforced much. But, I hadn’t reminded them that about my expectations.
I don’t remember where I read this, but its much more effective to discuss behavioral expectations with your kids BEFORE you expect them to do something rather than after. Talking about it after the fact may help a little, but when its something that they don’t do that often, its much more powerful (and fair to the kids) if you help remind them ahead of time. So – we talked about it in the car before going in, and I reminded them about 5 minutes before our meals came too. It worked! Loud thank you all around (almost all the way around, Claire just drooled). The kids are much more likely to remember to thank the waitress next time because they have already done it than if I had addressed the situation after they failed.