Social Politeness

Do you remember when you learned that it was appropriate to say “please” and “thank you”?

The Monster does have those down okay – he doesn’t always say the latter unprompted, but if reminded/cued about asking nicely, he’ll usually remember the former.

I know plenty of folks who aren’t good at the minor pleasantries that we all consider ‘polite’.  I can remember my grandmother being of a generation that, when a phone call was concluded, she would be just as likely to simply hang up the phone than remember to say ‘bye’ as some kind of closing phrase.  Still, there are certain things that we expect other people to say in certain situations that are simply in the realm of polite…

And the Monster’s not quite picked up those cues yet.

I suppose that I think it’s funny because there’s really not any good distinguishing cue in those situations without prompting him with an introductory sound.  The prompt “What do you say?” is usually followed by a universal phrase, which leads to funny conversations.

Me: Good night, Monster.  I love you.

[The Monster shifts around in his bed.]

Me: What do you say?

Monster: Thank you!

There is some improvement in terms of context – he’s figured out that “thank you” isn’t, perhaps, the appropriate phrase when prompted at bedtime, but tends towards “Good bye, Mommy” if I’m taking him upstairs instead of “Good night”.  And of course, the situations where it’s ambiguous where one phrase is better than the other, such as after gymnastics.

Outside of folks who know that the Monster has Autism, though… I wonder how it looks sometimes, when we’re prompting him for those socially polite phrases.  Half of me is wondering if folks just think that our child is being difficult and refusing to be polite… and the other half is wondering if they just think we’ve been lax about teaching him manners.  (Maybe that’s colored by something on a trip, a few years back, where we saw an airline pilot handing out wings to children at the airport and watched as he got a little annoyed at a parent who was prompting their child to say ‘thank you’.  I dunno.)

I do know that he’ll grasp the concept eventually, just like he’s figured out how to work most of his clothing, or the proper form for asking for things, but I do hope it’s sooner rather than later…

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