Toddlers & Manners 101
Toddlerhood is a stage that involves lots of learning. Your child is perfecting his walking and other motor skills. He is undergoing emotional development. And he makes strides in verbal communications.
The beginning of language development is an opportune time to begin teaching manners. By making “please” and “thank you” some of the first words he learns, you are paving the way for manners to become a good habit. And habits formed and reinforced this young have the potential to last a lifetime.
Getting Started With Manners
One of the first steps you can take before your child even begins to talk is setting a good example. Children learn what they see, and seeing Mom and Dad using good manners will make an impression. So make an extra effort to be polite and considerate.
Another thing you can do is point out good manners in other family members. Praising older brothers and sisters who are polite will show your toddler that such things are rewarded and make him eager to learn how to get similar praise.
“Please” and “Thank You”
Once your child is saying a few words, you can begin to teach him “please” and “thank you.” These words are the cornerstones of good manners. They are also absolutely adorable coming from a child who has just become verbal.
As with anything you teach a small child, repetition is the key here. Saying please and thank you whenever appropriate is a good start. When your toddler articulates that he wants something, ask him to say “please.” When someone gives him something, ask him to say “thank you.” He may not catch on right away, but eventually he will.
Once your child begins to say these words, praise him each time he remembers to do so. Positive reinforcement will make him feel good about himself and give him incentive to keep up the good work. When he has mastered these lessons, you can move on to other phrases such as “excuse me.”
Dealing With Rude Behavior
As your toddler gets older, he will inevitably exhibit rude behavior on occasion. Kids often do not understand that they can hurt people’s feelings with the things they say, so punishment is not the answer. If your child says something out of line, explain to him why it was wrong and how you expect him to behave.
Hitting others is another manner issue that parents of toddlers often deal with. It also warrants an explanation of how it affects others and how you would prefer for your child to behave. If it continues, time out may be necessary.
Raising a child with manners takes dedication and persistence. But it is well worthwhile when your toddler begins to use good manners on his own. The manners you teach him now will be an asset to him for the rest of his life.