Teaching Good Manners
Ah, manners. We all envision our children being super-polite and sitting quietly and generally not being embarrassing assholes. But then we have toddlers and realize that these things do not come naturally, and that teaching them can be a frustrating experience (that’s putting it mildly).
It’s never too early to start teaching manners. It is much easier to teach your toddler good manners from the get-go than to try and reverse impolite behaviors later on. And because little ones are natural mimics who gather cues from the world around them, the very best way to teach manners is to model them yourself. Make please and thank you a normal part of conversations, even the mundane: “May I have this toy, please? Thank you!” At the dinner table, put your napkin in your lap, and ask politely (without a mouthful of food, of course) for items to be passed to you. You might feel like you’re possessed by the ghost of Emily Post, but your toddler is soaking up your mannerly behaviors like a sponge, and it’ll pay off the first time somebody compliments her behavior in public. Guaranteed.
You can also take the lesson to the streets. Or, you know, to the park — where your toddler will get hands-on experience in social etiquette as he learns to wait politely for his turn on the swings or slide. Talk about how pushing, shouting, and cutting in line aren’t nice, and about how he would feel if someone did that to him (trust me, there will be plenty of rude kids you can discreetly use as an example).
Scary Mommy Tip: Even very little kids can begin to grasp the basics of kindness and etiquette, but keep your expectations realistic — don’t expect them to be flawlessly well-mannered for an extended period of time. Remember that they’re still toddlers, keep it simple, and praise them for doing well, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
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