5 Manners Every Toddler Should Know

It's never too early to teach your child manners.It's never too early to teach your child manners.Along with the ceremonial back to school season, September is also National Courtesy Month. While typical toddler behavior is far less than civilized, setting the foundation of courtesy and manners early in childhood will go a long way when your toddler turns preschooler in just a few short years. Want to set the foundation now? Here are 5 manners to teach your toddler to help them excel.

Related: 12 cringeworthy things my toddler has said!

Introduce Courtesy
The best part of early childhood is your toddler's ability to adsorb almost anything. They're little sponges waiting to soak up your knowledge and perspective of the world. Think of manners and courtesy as just another value you are instilling into your toddler's life. Introduce the concept of "manners" by explaining how certain behaviors make others feel happy and important. Set the foundation and casual relationship between good, courteous behavior and positive outcomes. With new studies finding that nice kids are treated nicer by their peers, teaching your toddler to be courteous during early childhood will certainly go rewarded.

Show Them Magic
Developmentally, toddlers are very self serving. They struggle to see outside their own needs and circumstances. And that's okay! Teaching toddlers to have manners should be done in a way that helps them achieve their ultimate goal - whether that be a new toy or your coveted attention. Show them how to make magic by introducing the "magic words" of please and thank you. Even for toddlers, a simple responsive or use of a sign will set the foundation of these most important manners.

Polite Meet and Greets
Not every toddler is social. My eldest wanted nothing to do with others and wouldn't engage or greet those looking to interact with her. My son is the polar opposite. Teaching your toddler to politely acknowledge others can seem trivial, but doing so early will help them understand their impact when developmentally ready. Ask your toddler to say hello to those who say hello to them. While driving to grandma's house, explain that the first order of business is to acknowledge grandma with a polite greeting (hugs, if you give those out!). Upon departing a playdate, take the time to say good bye to friends and hosts. Again, the idea isn't to make your toddler interact, but rather to express to them importance of politely acknowledging others.

Creating Compassion
As parents, we show our children an immeasurable amount of compassion and empathy. Though often done naturally, doing so also models to our toddlers the importance of courteous behavior when engaging with others. Be compassionate with animals, don't allow your toddler to hit (you or anyone else) and encourage sharing and generosity. Though I don't make my toddler share everything, they are aware of my expectations of being a compassion friend.

Be Part of the Solution
Older toddlers especially love to be make you proud. Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to learn problem solving skills, the importance of teamwork and being courteous by focusing their behavior on solution based remedies. Have a toddler that refuses to share a certain toy? Ask them to help you find a toy they can share! Mega blocks covering your floor? Make a game out of cleaning up. Sing songs together and ask your toddler to fill in certain words. Give your toddler a small item to carry into the house while unloading the trunk full of groceries. Let them become a solution, and don't forget to reward them with plenty of praise because of it.

Model Your Expectations
Sometimes it feels like toddlers are just big babies; stuck in this progression towards big kid, but holding on tight to the comforts of babyhood. When teaching your toddler manners, focus on the long term gain and the skills they need to excel later on in their childhood. Don't force a shy toddler to socialize, don't deny a hungry toddler if they refuse to say please. The real focus here is laying the foundation and expectations of courtesy and behaving with manners. And the biggest impact you have is modeling your expectations through your own courteous behavior.

-By Vanessa Bell

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