“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3
Saying “please” reflects an attitude of humility. Yes, it is easy to get in the habit of just saying it without ever thinking about why we are doing so. Even if it is done habitually, it still has value in influencing us subconsciously to make us aware that we are beholding to others for needs and wants.
Children should be taught early in life to say “please”. Learning this good manner has benefit in not only developing humility, but also in developing consideration of others. In addition, it is a way to practice self-discipline.
Have you ever watched children in a line to get refreshments at church or elsewhere? Some will quickly grab what they want and be on their way. They may even touch several cookies before deciding which they want. Others hold back and take the cookie nearest to them (this is what was once taught), say thank you, and walk quietly away. After eating the first that was offered, some children will run back and grab seconds. Others will say, “May I please have another?” (At one time, children were taught not to ask for seconds even if they did say “please”.) Which children show humility?
God wants us to teach children to be humble. In a classroom, some children will blurt out, “I need a paper!”. Others, who have been taught correctly, will say, “May I please have a paper?” Saying “please” is an outward indication that a child understands that more people are being affected than self. Saying “please” is indicating that the child understands that some effort is required on the part of another for the child’s benefit.It also puts children in good standing with adults. What adult would not prefer children who say “please” to those who don’t?
The basis of all good manners is kindness and consideration of others. Children need to understand that Jesus wants us to consider the needs of others and not just self. Doing so requires self-discipline. Self-discipline is the object of all discipline. After all, we don’t want our children to be good just when we see them. We want to know that they behave properly when out of our sight. Children are not truly trained until the correct behavior comes automatically. When children remember to say please, they are disciplining self and showing they have learned.
Very often, the Bible instructs us to do something that goes against what the world tells us. As we watch TV or social media, many times there seems to be very little or no humility. Many politicians seem to look for the bad in others instead of the good. We see demonstrations of angry people shouting about how terrible others are. As parents and grandparents, we can do much to teach children not to be that way, when they grow up, simply by teaching them to say “please” while they are young.