No one is born well-mannered and polite. Toddlers have a tendency to act like little cave people, groaning to get their way and grabbing anything and everything they want (MINE!). But good news- they’re also developing and learning values and how to behave constantly, so it’s not too early to get started on teaching manners. There’s no time like the present!
Simply by practicing politeness & good manners as a habit, your little one will soon pick it up too.
What are good manners at this stage?
So what can you reasonably expect from your toddler? The answer is not too much. Some or any resemblance of “please” and “thank you” (usually “Ta-ta”) is great at this young age.
If you start instilling manners now, by the age of three, they’ll be ready to learn how to stay seated at the table during mealtimes and greet familiar people with a polite “hello”. As you’re teaching, don’t forget that the underlying message is courtesy and kindness.
Tips for teaching good manners
Be a role model
It’s important to be a role model not only at home, but when out and about too. Let your toddler see you being polite to others, as well as you saying “thank you” to them when they do what they are told. Or “I’m sorry” if you accidentally bump into them. Listen patiently and respectfully when they try to communicate or talk to you, just as you hope they’ll do for others in the future.
The dinner table is the perfect place for lasting lessons in manners. That’s why it’s important to take the time to eat together where possible. Try to encourage them to sit at the table until everyone is finished.
Reward good manners
Notice and praise good manners and try not to make a big deal out of the bad. If you react to bad manners and they get attention, they may be inclined to continue them.
Remember, this is a slow and steady process — and a long one, so don’t make it tougher on yourself, or your toddler. Patience is key.