For some parents, teaching toddlers manners and to say "please" and "thank you" are momentous tasks, for others they seem to be able to teach their toddlers more than just the basics with ease.
Do toddlers and manners mix? Can we get our little ones to also show manners to others, in public, at a restaurant and at the table in our homes?
Teaching toddlers manners is a matter of consistently reminding your little one to make the right choices and remember what you have told them.
Where most of us go wrong is expecting these habits to become engrained in a short while. It is an accepted notion that it takes at least 3 months for an adult of intelligence to adopt a new habit. If this is the case, then I am sure it is a bit longer for our toddlers.
The good news, though, is that once a habit is ingrained and the neural paths created, the habit is there for life unless overwritten.
I grew up in a home where table manners were of utmost importance. However as the years went by as a single working woman, a newly wed with hurried meals and then a mom with 4 little ones, table manners had to be relearned.
This afforded me the opportunity to teach manners to my toddlers as I relearn them for myself.
Here are 4 books that you can use to get started on teaching your children manners. This first book is a board book with just the basics, the second is a lovely book for families that have a range of ages and the last two can be used in your daily routine with either son or daughter.
Selected Books For Teaching Toddlers Manners.
Like all things, teaching and training take time. We also need to decide what our priorities are when it comes to teaching toddlers manners and then make the time to teach these things to our children.
In our home these were a priority:
Saying please and thank you
Standing back for adults
Correct greetings to others
I set up a few role playing situations for these as a way to introduce the principals when I saw that my toddlers were old enough understand not only the "how" but also the "why".
Getting your young children involved in setting the table and preparing the evening meal is also a lovely time to talk over basic table and hygiene manners.
Plan to have a few tea parties over the next month with your children. Make a batch of cookie dough. The recipe on that page enable you to make a large supply and freeze in portions so that you don’t have to repeat the process each time.
As you prepare for the tea party, talk about washing hands, burping at the table, table layout, cleaning up after yourselves etc.
Each time you plan your tea party, let your toddler make biscuits with you. When cool you can decorate them. Then lay the table together with proper tea cups and saucers.
All the time show them by modelling how to speak correctly by asking for them to: "Please pass the sugar/biscuits/milk." And by saying "Thank You" each time.
Having good manners is very important. Parents start teaching their children at an early age to use good manners. Please, thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry are important to all of us no matter how old we are.
Good manners are a necessary part of growing up. Having good manners can make or break someone’s success in life. It shows courtesy and good moral beliefs. Helping to reinforce good manners while children are in your care will give the children a good foundation to grow on.
There are many ways to teach children good manners. Repetition is one way. Saying the words over and over after talking to them about their meaning can help a child to remember what the manners are used for.
Another great way to teach children good manners is by letting them follow your example. Always be courteous and use your manners when talking or interacting with the children. Also let them know its okay to correct you if you do not use your manners.
If one of the children forgets to use their manners don’t punish them for it. Just remind them that they are to be respectful of you also. They might forget to say thank you so just say to them thank you and see if it doesn’t spark something that reminds them.
Play games where manners need to be used. It can be any type of game just put emphasis on the use of their manners. Change the rules around to include using good manners and then use your imagination to make the game work for this purpose. Kids love to play games so what better way than a game to teach them.
Just remember that good manners are necessary in life. They can help us succeed, give us a respectful foundation and can make anyone we come in contact with feel a little special. Teaching and reinforcing good manners is one way to insure each child has a good foundation for life.
When my children were much younger, I read a book to them entitled If Jesus Came to My House This book left a big impression on me and on my children at the time. We can often forget that He is with us all the time and sees not only what we are doing but what we are thinking too. In spite of this He still loves us, but it does not excuse our ugly behaviour.
It is very important as a mom to model the correct way of doing things and not to have the situation where we live by the rule of “Do what I say and not what I do!” The book of Proverbs has many references to table manners and in the books of Luke and Acts hospitality is seen as one mark of a life given over to serving the Lord. I encourage moms to organize their homes, become adept at home making tasks, train their children and to be hospitable in His name. Quite a list, and many of these skills are a lifelong task. We cannot do this overnight or even in a year, but by taking small steps each day towards these goals we can achieve it with time.
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