Raising a polite toddler
They snatch, grab, howl and eat with their fingers. Yet somehow parents have to turn these often uncivilised little creatures into law-abiding and respectful members of the human race. How do you teach a toddler manners? Read on…
Why, you think to yourself, is it always my child who refuses to share, snatches a present for grandma and refuses point blank to ever say please or thank you? You cringe, and mentally schedule ‘toddler etiquette’ lessons for as soon as possible.
Some experts believe that it’s vital parents lay the foundations of good manners in the toddler years. It’s also suggested that as youngsters like to mimic their parents, that it’s important Mum and Dad are also always polite – at least until the kids are in bed.
So how do you train your two-year-old to have good manners?
Try these top manners tips:
- Introduce the concepts of sharing and taking turns as soon as you can (although it can be hard for toddlers to grasp).
- Promote empathy by talking about feelings and how others feel when people hurt them or are mean to them (a lot of story books have this theme).
- Encourage your little one to use a fork and spoon at meal-times.
- Be polite yourself, using the words “please” and “thank you” in your dealings with your child and with others.
- If they’re mean to Grandma, a sibling or another little child, talk to them about how sad their actions have made others.
- Model the manners you want your child to use – i.e. don’t talk with your mouthful, use cutlery correctly.
- Encourage children to greet others warmly.
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This article was written by Fiona Baker, former editor in chief of Mother & Baby, Pregnancy & Birth and Wondertime magazines for Kidspot, New Zealand's best resource for pregnancy and parenting.
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