Dr. Kent, in his The Happiest Toddler on the Block, refers to children as “tiny little neanderthals.” As the mother of two beautiful little boys who I love and adore to no end, I have to say that Dr. Kent is absolutely 100% dead on. My kids are cavemen! They run and grunt and wail, throw things and refuse to listen to reason. What makes them any different then cavemen? Children don't usually have as much body or facial hair as cavemen, but other than that, I see almost no distinction. Now this brings me to to the topic in question: How the heck are we supposed to teach these prehistoric whippersnappers to mind their manners when they can barely hold it together when their favorite cartoon is over? I will give you some of my tried and true ways of teaching my boys to be polite, but keep in mind I'm not promising miracles.
#1- Lead by example – We are our child's most predominate teachers. We are the ones that they spend the most time with, so they learn most of their behaviors from, you guessed it, good old mom and dad. Manners are often something that we forget about when we are in the comfort of our own home, but you should remember that kids are always listening. If you want your husband to pass the salt, don't forget to say please and thank you. You might feel silly while saying it, but your kids will pick up on it and try to mimic your good behavior.
#2- Create a no pressure zone- Remember when you were a teenager and your parents didn't want you dating that older guy so you climbed out your bedroom window to meet him after everyone was asleep? We all can remember some sort of childhood defiance of our parents, and toddlers follow the same line of thinking. The more you tell them to do, or not to do something, the more they will rebel against you. So don't force manners, ease into using them. If your toddler forgets to say “thank you,” just say it for him. He will hear you and eventually he will get the hang of using his manners all the time.
#3- Make it fun! - Shouldn't magic words have magic powers? Teach toddlers that saying “please” has the power to get an adults attention so they know you need help. Saying “thank you” has the power to tell adults that you are happy, while saying “excuse me” has the power to get an adults attention when they might otherwise be preoccupied. Lastly, saying “sorry” has the power to help heal someone's hurt. Make sure they know the positive impact that their courteousness is having.
Now, if you do all of these things and your toddler still won't use his manners, what can I tell you? Cavemen can be an unpredictable bunch, but what is important is that you have patience! And, hey- you never know, junior could get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger before you lose your mind. Hang it there!
This Article was Written by Kristina Diggins-Reisinger..
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