How and when should I teach my toddler manners?

Real Mom Problem

“I am so at a loss for how to teach manners to my children.”

by misssy2000 misssy2000

Quick Tips

  • 1. Let your toddler see you exhibiting good manners with others
  • 2. Use manners when interacting with your toddler
  • 3. Explain the reason behind the manners; "thank you" shows gratitude, "bless you" - compassion etc...

Real Mom Solutions

Let's face it, when a toddler says "thank you" it's just plain adorable! But good manners also help our kids learn important concepts like gratitude and compassion. See how the moms of CafeMom are teaching their tots to mind their manners.

Lead by Example

  • two4one

    I think all it takes is to talk to them and model good manners. For example: If one of my daughters tries to grab something, I will tell them "That is not nice. Please ask before you take something." If they are at the playground and they try to cut someone on line for the slide or something I say, "You need to wait your turn like everyone else. You wouldn't like it if someone cut you". If they burp, I tell them to say excuse me. I make sure that they see me using good manners too. I always say please and thank you to workers in a store, say excuse me if I need to get by someone, and sorry if I bump into them. I hold the door open for people behind me (or women with carriages). Basically I hope that they will follow my lead, and if they don't, I explain the proper behavior to them. They aren't perfect by any means (what three year old is) but they behave fairly well in public.

  • ciao_bella

    I think the biggest thing to teach manners is teach by example. Your little one is watching everything you do. Even when you interact with your husband, use your please, thank you, excuse me etc. Being rude just isn't an option in this house. We place a huge emphasis on manners.

  • JonesMama

    I think too many people in this world don't care about manners anymore. Kids are only going to use manners if their parents do, that's how our son learned them - not from us telling him to, but from him hearing/seeing us use good manners.

Don't Stand for Rude Behavior

  • alaskansglmom

    In my house there will be manners. My daughter just turned 2 and whenever she asks for something I ask her "what do you say?" then she will say please. She is working on thank you, but she has been saying excuse me you for a while. She also says sorry. My son just turned a year and I got him to say thank you also. I don't want bad mannered kids, that isn't acceptable.

  • Tree-Tree

    Manners are a must in my house. I make everyone visiting use them and it drives me crazy when my 5 year has to remind older children and sometimes adults to use them.

  • the_littleminx

    Manners are must here too. I have taught both my girls (3 and 1) since the time they were babies that we say things like "please" "thank you" "excuse me" "may I". My 3 year old will occasionally forget if she gets too caught up in the moment, but 9 times out of 10 she will ALWAYS remember her manners, and people always comment on it. Our 1 year old will be 2 in October and she used to say "thank you" really well when she first started really talking, but now she seems to have forgotten. So, needless to say, we've been working really hard with her to help her learn both "please" and "thank you". There are plenty of people out there that have no respect for manners, but my children will not be one of those people. If others don't want to teach their children proper respect and manners then there's not much I can do about that, but I can do something about my own family.

  • JaynaMarie

    "Please" and "thank you" are musts here too and I'm shocked when I tell my daughter to say "thank you" to someone and they say, "oh it's okay" and I want to say "NO IT ISN'T!" They need to learn to appreciate what they have and what people do for them. I don't want my girls to expect things. My husband and I are really strict about a lot of things and sometimes I wonder if we are too strict but I am proud of my daughter and her good behavior although I know she is only 2 and will have her moments. We all do right?

  • firemans_wife

    I have to say that kids not being taught manners is a huge problem theses days. All of my kids know better than to ever answer an adult with anything but "yes ma'am" or " no sir"! We have taught our children the importance of manners. When they are grown, rest assured employers will hire a person that says "yes sir & no sir" long before some kid that says "yeah, and huh, or whatever"! Just bugs me to NO END when some rude child tries to talk to me like that. I will not tolerate it! Every kid that comes to my house knows that in this house you will use manners or you will leave!

Good Manners Pay Off

  • lynnway

    I think manners help teach our children empathy for others. By saying thank you, you are teaching children others are important too. You should always teach things of this nature because it is the lack of empathy that allows children to hurt other children and just not care.

  • carla142

    We teach our children to say, please, thank you, you're welcome, bless you when someone sneezes, excuse me, etc. It teaches your kids to be respectful toward others. I know that I appreciate people being polite to me, although people seem to be a lot less polite than they were when I was a kid. Maybe society doesn't place that much importance on manners anymore, but my family will have to be the exception.

  • blueeyedgirls

    It's so funny when my daughter uses manners, she's not quite sure which manner to use and when. Like when I ask her to pick up her toys or bring me her pencil, she'll say "thank you mom"!! It's hilarious! It's those little things that make you glad you're a mom! I just look at it like she's using manners, so we'll learn the other stuff eventually.

  • Iskkra

    My son has obscenely good manners. He's more polite than even I am! I know that I was very good about always being polite to him, saying please, thank you, excuse me, etc, but he took it and ran with it. He is SO appreciative of things I do, and will say thank you for absolutely anything I do for him or give him. He thanks me for his breakfast, for changing his diaper, for sharing crayons or toys, etc... And says excuse me for every sound that comes out of his body, even a stomach growl.

How & When to Teach Table Manners

  • ddhb2007

    My daughter has been eating with fingers instead of her hands since 15 months. The picture I have of her eating her first birthday cake she's holding her fork. She started using a napkin around two. At 2 1/2 she started not talking while she was eating. Now, we're working on chewing with her mouth shut, and she's three-and-a-half.

  • MomofTwins07

    We have always sat at the table with them. Just remind them each time they do something wrong and praise like crazy when they do something right! They learn fast. Ours are 3 and they do a great job. I don't worry about elbows right now, just the big stuff.

  • Liebschin

    It's a continuous process, but we started early - around 18 months when she went from her high chair to a booster seat at the table. We teach her both through direction and example. She does very well at 3½; even knows to chew with her mouth closed (and will remind those who don't). We started with her having to stay seated at the table until after blessing. Please and thank you of course, though that's more general. Also using a napkin and waiting until everyone is served to eat. Those were our big ones and our three-year-old, with a gentle reminder, is pretty good at following them.

  • dreamybabies

    We sit at the table with our daughter for all meals on the weekend - been doing this since she was about 16 months or so. She's going to be 2 next month and for the most part, she's pretty good with manners (or at least listening). Of course, she'll have the odd fit for whatever reason (she's a toddler of course!) but we just respond in the same way we always have - we look her in the eye, stop what she's doing and firmly tell her "no, we don't [insert bad behavior here]. That's not nice manners" and then hold her gaze for a few seconds more and release her. If she does it again, we do the same thing.

    Toddlers will behave all sorts of ways at the table - throwing food, banging things on the table etc - so it's important to nip it in the bud and respond to bad behavior in the same way every time. Consistency is key to encourage listening, learning and curbing bad behavior. Your behavior at the table plays a big role in how they behave. So if you read at the table they will too eventually. If you burp at the table, so will they. We are all a product of our environment so if you want them to have good table manners, you must exhibit them too.

  • countrygirlkat

    We don't worry tons about things like elbows on the table and such at this age, but we do tell them they need to be sitting down and not wiggling all over, that they need to use the silverware and not hands and teach them what is finger foods, that they need to not get up and down from the table, and that when they are finished they need to put their plate in the sink.

Start Young

  • MrsPilat

    Both my babes have been signing please since 8 months. It is the one thing I am always stressing over.

  • ecagle

    I'd say they start "getting" things around a year to 18 months. I start pushing table manners around 2-3 years of age.