Teaching Toddlers Manners

Manners are a learned social skill and probably of very little importance to the average toddler. The sooner you begin teaching a youngster the tools they’ll need to function in society the better. Below are some guidelines on how to introduce the concept of manners to a two to three-year-old.

Lead by Example

Children of this age love to be like mom and dad. If there are other children in the household and you haven’t established family rules, consider writing them down. They don’t have to be many or extremely detailed. Behavior expectations should be included with basic respect and politeness heading up the list. “Excuse me”, “Please” and “Thank you” should be used appropriately within the home. Your toddler will pick up on the words and their meaning. Remember, youngsters will often say the first thing on their mind without a thought for others around them. While it can be embarrassing, it is very normal. Give a gentle correction and move on to showing her the correct response. Praise her when she gets it right.


Be content with the basic lessons covered by the household rules. Expand on them when you can as you go about your daily routine. Your child can speak politely to others, even at young age. A two-year-old can say “hello” and “bye.” Have patience as shyness is common in toddlers. Give your youngster time to absorb the small things as they will provide stepping stones towards more advanced concepts, like sharing and taking turns.

Family Meals

Make your toddler a part of your meal time. Try to have a family dinner once or twice a week; allow your youngster to be a part of the event. It’s easier for them to learn the manners that accompany dining when they can observe in a relaxed setting. Besides, when they make mistakes at home, it’s easy to correct them, have a chuckle and continue with the meal. Praise them for doing the right thing. When going out to eat, tell them how they can be a big boy or girl and show off their new skills. Let them know beforehand what’s expected of them. Remember to lower your expectations to their age level. Don’t put unfair burdens on them by dining where food takes a long time to reach the table or in places more geared to adults. Choose a family restaurant that’s used to catering to youngsters so everyone’s stress level stays low.

Play Date Manners

Encourage sharing and taking turns when your toddler begins to play with others. Keep favorite toys at home or put them away when others visit, as it will only add stress to the situation. To a small child, it seems unfair for them not to have everything they want and it can take some time to get them to accept play date rules. Prepare them beforehand and explain that everyone gets a chance to play with the toys. Squabbles are almost unavoidable and a part of growing and learning. Practice and more practice will bring most children into the fold. Remember to praise them when they’ve done a good job.

Give yourself and your toddler the gift of time. Treating people with respect (the cornerstone of manners) comes with some fairly advanced concepts. Empathy, respect for personal space and observing the golden rule are a few of the support beams needed for living, working and playing around others. It takes time to develop them, as they are learned behaviors. The more the trusted people about a youngster display manners, the more likely he’ll begin using them.

Don’t stress over the small mistakes, just give correction and praise when he does or says the right thing. It’s all a part of growing and learning and being a child