Teaching Your Toddler Manners
No matter how old you are, you are judged by your manners.
They’re so important – from making friends to getting the right job or receiving the best customer service, those ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’ really are worth their weight in gold. Therefore it’s never too early to get the basic framework for a polite child in place.
Manners don’t need to be old-fashioned. As soon as your child starts talking, you should teach basic etiquette as a matter of course. When handing your child his favourite toy, hold of it while saying ‘thank you’ until he repeats the words. This teaches him that this is the correct response to being given something. You can use the same method for the word ‘please’. It absolutely doesn’t matter if he can only say ‘ta’ or ‘peez’ – the point is that he says something. Reward your child with plenty of cuddles, praise and, naturally, the item he has requested.
A polite toddler can be taught to say ‘excuse me’ if he burps or coughs – likewise teach him to say ‘bless you’ if someone sneezes, which can be quite funny during a sneezing fit.
Table manners are so important. Throwing food, getting down from the table and running around or loudly expressing displeasure at the contents of your plate are not appropriate and should be discouraged from the get-go.
Explain the rules clearly, then lead by example. Teach your child how to behave by sitting to eat with him as much as possible – this will help him to see how you do things, and in a natural way where he is more likely to pick up what is the norm when it comes to family mealtimes.
Children’s books about manners
Children are naturally curious about what is expected of them and there are plenty of good books you can read together tackling these topics, including:
- Atchoo! The Complete Guide to Good Manners by Mij Kelly and Mary McQuillan
- Yucky Mucky Manners by Sam Lloyd
- Dude, That’s Rude! by Pamela Esplanand and Elizabeth Verdick
- Excuse Me! A Little Book of Manners by Karen Katz