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Teach Your Toddler Manners Worthy of Royalty

Katlyn Joy | 9, July 2014


As Prince George grows, you can be certain he will know when to sip, which fork to use when, and how to address people of various stations. While your child won't have quite so many mannerly expectations, it is not too much to ask for some basic manners to begin even in the toddler years.

Table manners.

OK, this can be a reach at this age, but stay with me here. Yes, using the right fork at this age is a laughable goal. In fact, until later toddler times, using any utensils may be a joke. What you want to start with is when you sit at the table for family meals, we are going to be pleasant, we are going to eat; we are not going to throw foods or tantrums.

Violations of table rules should be recognized as such, right behavior explained and modeled, and later violations result in removal from the family meal for a couple minutes.

Later, you can introduce how to use forks and spoons and as coordination grows, the expectation is you use utensils whenever a grown up does.

Rude sounds.

While a surprisingly loud belch will elicit giggles from family members when the child is still a lap baby, it becomes most unbecoming behavior past diaper days. Teach your child to say, "Excuse me." It's simple and even the youngest children can learn it. To do this effectively you need to model it consistently and remind your child when to do the same. Also, don't reward bad behavior with smiles or laughs, because you send a confusing message to your child. Praise your child for remembering manners and you will keep the good behavior coming.

Please and thank you.

Nothing makes a request more palatable than a well-said, "Please." Nothing makes a request less attractive than a screaming, "Gimme!" Teach your child this simple lesson early and consistently. If your child forgets, remind them to say please. If they whine or yell, or begin to throw a tantrum you must never, NEVER give in. Never. Unless you want to make sure your child does it every time he wants something. If you want your way, and you realize if you do a certain action you win every time, won't you repeat that behavior?

If your child forgets to say thank you, don't chide or shame her. Remind her in a kind, polite and yet firm voice. If your child refuses to comply, it's time to take back the item requested until this requirement is meant. If you mean business, your kids will know and respond accordingly.

Greeting others.

Little ones love to wave goodbye, and say hello. To everyone it seems at times. Expand on that to teach your child how to look someone in the eye and say hello. Teach them, "How are you?" or to say, "I'm fine, thank you," when someone asks them. Want adults to go gaga over your toddler? Teach your child to say "Ma'am," or "Sir," to grown ups. While a fixture in Southern culture, it has fast evaporated from most other circles.

It's a shame that most kids feel completely comfortable calling adults by their first names, as if they are peers or buddies. Respect begins at home, and manners are the first measurable ways to show respect. Teach children to call teachers, family friends and other grown ups, "Mister Brown," or at least "Miss Sue." If you start early, it will be a natural part of their relating to others in positions of authority.


OK, now I've gone too far, I know. But if you don't expect and teach these things early, it will only be a foreign concept later. When having little pals over, show your child how much fun it is to play together. Demonstrate how to share. If your child has a toy that he is insane over, put that toy up when other kids are over to avoid any meltdowns. If your child screams, wails, hits or god-forbid, bites another child over a disputed item, you need to address the behavior firmly and directly. Let your child know what behavior you want and what will happen if you don't get that behavior.

Published July 8, 2014

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Liz riffle Dec 29, 2016 06:14:49 AM ET

Very aptly put! I agree with everything you wrote about manners in this section.

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