Manners for Minors

“Please” and “thank you” are not called the ‘magic words’ for nothing! Good manners are a sign of respect and consideration for others. As soon as your toddler starts talking, they can start learning basic courtesy – this will set the scene for developing meaningful manners during the preschool years.

Be a good role model
The best way to raise a polite child is to be polite yourself. Your child is watching your every move – if you’re rude to car guards and habitually hog the TV remote, your little copycat will do the same. Explain that there are ways to behave and ways not to behave. Keep rules simple, enforce them consistently and gently remind your toddler if they slip up. Eventually it will become second nature.

Social interaction
This is the age of stranger anxiety, so it takes courage for your little one to say “hello” when meeting new people and “goodbye” when leaving. Explain why it’s polite to greet and prepare them beforehand when they’re likely to encounter other people.

Your toddler will need lessons in sharing and taking turns. Simple games where two or more can play will show them the concept of give and take. Explain why it’s not okay to hog all the toys, shove other children or call people names and always praise cooperative behaviour.

Table manners
As soon as your little one can sit in a high chair, let them join you for meals – a great opportunity to practice table manners. Just learning to sit still is a major achievement for a squirmy toddler, so make sure your goals are reasonable. Help your little one wash their hands before eating, teach them not to bang utensils, spit their food out, talk with their mouth full or run around the table while others are eating. Refusing food is common at this age. Forcing your little one to eat is bound to fail and bribing them with sweets will just escalate the Food War. Relax – chances are your child is getting enough nutrition. With enough patience, by the age of 2, your toddler should be ready to eat in public without bringing shame upon the family.