How to Teach Good Manners and Politeness to Your Child

The thing to remember about teaching good manners to toddlers is that they are learning new important habits that will last a lifetime. But, like with any set behavior, these practices won’t be engrained overnight. Expect kids to have frequent setbacks throughout the learning process, so don’t give in to discouragement. Adopting good habits comes with lots of repetition, reinforcement, and practice.

There are a few points of basic etiquette that all children should put into practice, regardless of age:

Good Manners All Toddlers Should Learn

Teach toddlers the difference between positive behavior and bad habits early. By 18 months of age, kids have a growing awareness of how other people behave. Therefore, this is prime time to set good examples for your inquisitive toddler to mimic.

  • Polite Hellos and Farewells: Even before your toddler learns how to communicate verbally, you can encourage your child to always greet people with a wave and use the same friendly gesture as a goodbye.
  • Remain Seated While Eating: Anytime your child wants a snack or consumes a meal, be sure to have the toddler sit down in a chair. Have them remain seated until the toddler has finished eating.
  • Enforce Gestures of Appreciation: Teach good manners by encouraging your toddler to develop the habit of saying please and thank you.

Good Manners for Preschoolers

The preschool age is the best time for learning new, lasting habits. To instill good manners into your young child, present the important skills as something that big kids do.

  • Standard Table Manners: It takes some time to develop good table manners, and be prepared to do a lot of reminding. By preschool age, your child should be eating with the proper utensil, chewing with his or her mouth closed, and using a napkin.
  • Polite Vocabulary: Your preschooler can now focus on polite phrases that are a bit more complex, such as “excuse me” and “may I please have a cookie?”

Good Manners for Kindergarten Students

At this age, kids are proud of their good manners and like to show off their skills. But they still need to be reminded from time to time and need constant encouragement.

  • Making Eye Contact: Adults expect a kindergartener to make eye contact when they talk to them. To help kids at this age instill the habit, try to make a game out of recognizing the color of a person’s eyes when your child is spoken to or speaks to someone.
  • No Interrupting: Kindergarten students are old enough to wait patiently for their turn. When a child does interrupt when someone is talking, remind the kindergartener that unless there is an emergency, that rude behavior is unacceptable. Always acknowledge a child’s good behavior with a nod of approval or a warm smile.
  • No Mumbling: Not speaking clearly is a bad habit that can be a hard one to break, even for adults. Kindly remind your child that you cannot understand what he or she is saying, and politely ask the child to repeat the sentence more carefully.

While it may seem hard at times, always remember that learning good habits begins at home. Parents who teach good manners from the start will instill important life skills.