Minding Our Manners

We all want our child to be the one that everybody likes – teachers, friends, family and even the nice woman passing us by in the store. We want him to be well behaved at the playground, act courteous to friends and family, and learn to be respectful of others. For a toddler, that doesn’t exactly come naturally. Let’s face it, our toddler is pretty self-centered, which does come naturally and is completely developmentally appropriate. He is in the stage of life when for the past two to three years, he has been taken care of. He has been fed, clothed, bathed and adored. So why shouldn’t this continue, he thinks. Our toddler can become very demanding at times, and this can cause quite of bit of anxiety for us.

Teaching our toddler manners can be one of the most important elements of life that we can ever give them, and it starts with us. For a toddler, they need to be like us. They follow us around the house watching our every move, and more importantly, they are listening to us and beginning to understand our language. Therefore, teaching manners begins with us as parents role modeling the very behavior we want them to portray. Say please and thank you, offer to have another adult go first when playing a game. After helping to pick up toys, make sure to say thank you to her and be grateful. Our child sees and hears this, and she will remember.

When trying to teach your toddler manners, begin with those very basic sets of manners.  When he says, “More drink,” you say, “More drink… please.”  Then, after receiving the drink, remind your child that “Now we say, ‘Thank you.’” It will take consistency, but when he begins to use these little steps, make sure that he is rewarded with hugs and kisses. Don’t forget the old standard “What’s the magic word?” Use humor by honestly asking your child, “What’s that word we use after someone helps us? I just can’t remember.” He giggles and reminds you, and you have both been rewarded. Explain briefly that when family and friends come to the door, it’s polite to greet them even with a simple hello, and then allow him to continue with what he was doing. Make it simple, and then, after the good bye’s have been said, tell your child how proud you are that he is such a polite young man.

Sharing is a manner so difficult for a toddler to learn, but they can do it. When playing with a playmate and the tug of war begins, explain that it’s polite to let others play, take turns. If it doesn’t work, playtime may have to be over, and make sure it is. This may take some planning with the other parents, but it will be well worth the strategy.

It takes time, consistency and diligence, but seeing your child grow and become a respectful young person means so much to everyone around her. Manners instill pride in your child, and that makes us proud. They will thank you for it.

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