Social Language: The Benefits Of Using the Magic Words “Please” “Thank You” and “Sorry”!
By: Don D’Amore MA CCC-SLP Speech Language Pathologist
Picture this scenario: You are a young child and you see your caregiver with a plate of your favorite treat. You might blurt out “Can I have a cookie?” The adult then prompts you with: “You didn’t use the Magic Word.” You quickly rephrase your request: “May I PLEASE have a cookie? ...PLEASE!!” We grow up learning that using the “polite words” of “please,” “thank you” and “sorry” makes our social language interactions go smoother and easier (and we are more likely to get a cookie when we ask for one in the future!)
ASHA Provides an excellent overview of Social Communication Disorder. Issues with Social Language Communication are quite broad and involve a variety of components. One of the issues of poor social language abilities is the difficulty in creating and maintaining close relationships and friendships with others. A person who does not use words like “please,” “thank you” and “sorry” will typically be interpret by others to be rude, demanding, and not respectful of others. While this is not an exclusive reason it certainly can play a role.
While not the only potential solution, teaching a person the importance of using the words like “please,” “thank you” and “sorry” can often lead to almost magical improvements in their social language interactions and relationships. We can teach that these types of words are a signal to another person that you respect and care about them enough to add the extra polite word in your message.
Teaching the importance of these 'magic words' helps teach the value of taking on some the perspective of the other person. When you use these words you are are not just taking something from someone, or inconveniencing them in someway without regard to their opinions or feelings. Instead using the extra ‘magic words’ to show the other person you appreciate what they might do or have done; and everyone wants to be appreciated!
I created a SpeechPage set for this topic several years ago. I recently updated and expanded My Please, Thank You, & Sorry set and just added it to my growing Don D'Amore's Teachers Pay Teachers Store. It is on sale for only $3.99 right now for those who are interested.
Here are some quotes from the Helper pages in my Please, Thank You, & Sorry TpT set
We use the word “please” when we want to make a request, and ask for permission. Other people may be unhappy if we just tried to take things from them without asking nicely
Saying “thank you” magically lets another person know that we value them! By thanking someone, we are telling them we appreciate how they did something for us.
“Sorry” is a 'magic word 'we use when we do something wrong that may have bothered someone else. We all make mistakes. Our mistakes may hurt or bother someone. But the magic word “sorry” lets the other person know thatyou did not mean to do something wrong, and that you regret doing it.
One way to practice with a person needing help with this type of social language would be to present different scenarios, and discuss with them which magic word would work best for that scenario and why.
For example you might give prompts such as:
How would you respond to this:
"Someone brought in a box of donuts, and you would like to have one." "How might you ask them?" "After they give you a donut, how would you respond?”
"You borrowed your friends hoodie and accidentally ripped the sleeve. What would you say to them?"
You could think of many more similar scenarios on your own, or my TPT set has 54 illustrated ones using cards and practice sheets with useful helper pages!