Teaching Your Toddler Manners

Toddlers generally speak before they think (and lets face it, we all know someone that has not grown out of that habit).

Teaching your toddler manners is a vital part of them growing up and your toddler will use manners on a daily basis.

Toddlers understand a lot more than we give them credit for, so as long as you put it a context they understand, you should not have a problem getting your toddler to understand the concept of manners and why we need to use them.

Setting an example to teach your toddler manners

The most recommended way to teach your toddler manners is to set an example. For example greeting your partner when they walk through the door, or saying “excuse me please” to someone who is blocking your way at the local shop.

It is amazing how much your toddler wants to be like you and copy your actions, so make sure they are always positive.

Start with the magic words for a polite toddler

Expecting your toddler to hold open a door for an elderly lady may be pushing it a little, but expecting “please” and “thank you” should not be to far out of your toddlers grasp.

Even if your toddler attempts to say it, you should praise and reward them. For example, if your 13 month old can only manage can only manage “ta” instead of thank you, this should be more than acceptable, although you should still try and encourage them to say the full word (with out coming across as pushy).

Show your toddler off

Have a meal with close family or friends and show off what manners your toddler has learnt.

Set reasonable goals for your toddler, for example to sit at the table for 15 minutes. Make sure you (and everyone else praises them for their good behaviour) and you will start seeing a vast improvement in your toddler’s willingness to co-operate and how quickly they learn their manners.

Encourage polite greetings from your toddler

Before you go somewhere, tell your toddler “we are going to go and see Nana now, don’t forget to say “hi”. When you get to the door, encourage your toddler to greet to who you are meeting.

You may find your toddler goes all shy, but you should still encourage them to greet the person you are visiting. Failing that they should be encouraged to say goodbye, as they should have had some time around the person to become less shy.

Encourage toddler manners on play dates

Teaching your toddler to share is always going to be difficult. It is a well-known fact that if a toddler sees something they want, they have a tendency to snatch it from their poor victim.

It is important you jump in and return the toy to the original child who was playing with it. If it is a toy that everyone would like to play with, explain to your toddler that the other child is playing with it now and they can play with it after/in five minutes (or what ever you think is reasonable).

You might want to have a look at how to get your toddler to share toys.

Encourage your toddler to help pick up toys after play dates, it’s great when your toddler helps out and will be looked favourably upon by other parents (so you get invited out more often).

Be consistent and persistent when teaching your toddler manners

Teaching your toddler manners is unfortunately one of those things that you have to keep at.

No toddler becomes fluent in manners over night; it takes time and patience from you.

Reward your toddler’s manners

Reward your toddler when they do well with their manners. Stickers and reward charts are an easy way to see how well your child is progressing and what is going well/not so well.

Praising your toddler means they can see what they are doing brings positive reward and so they will keep doing it.

Thank you cards

Getting your toddler to draw a picture or card (it only has to be scribbles for young children) for their grand parents who took them out on a nice trip to the zoo will be really appreciated.

Getting your toddler to say thank you will be valued by those who receive them and you are also encouraging your child to be polite and courteous in the process.

Patience is a virtue

Remember, teaching your toddler manner is never going to happen over night, so sick with it. Teaching your child manners while they are young is far easier then teaching it to an older child. It will be worth it in the end.