Miss Manners for Toddler: How to Teach Your Little One Manners

Remember when you were 19, and you’d see that three-year-old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store and swear that YOUR child would never act that way in public? Well, welcome to the world of parenting. All children throw tantrums, and some unknown force in the universe irritates them to the point that it’s often in the most humiliating of places.

As parents, you do have some control over how your children act in public. Want your toddler to act like a polite human being in public rather than an angry ape? Try teaching her some manners BEFORE the problem gets out of hand.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Granted, you probably don’t throw tantrums when you don’t get a treat in the grocery store, but consider how you act when she’s watching. Regardless of what you TELL her to do, she will mimic what you are actually DOING. It may sound way too easy, but the best way to create polite children is to be polite to others. You are your child’s best role model.

Don’t Skip the Basics

It may come out sounding like complete gibberish, but she should learn to say “please” and “thank you” from the time she utters her first word. As soon as she shows she is ready to communicate with words, start encouraging her to use these phrases. You’ll never regret starting early.

Teach Her to Sit

Toddlers aren’t known for their natural ability to sit still and join in a polite conversation, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be learning. Ask her to sit still with you for several minutes at a time. Have her close her eyes, place her hands on her knees and focus on what she notices with her other senses. Start with 30 seconds or 1 minute and gradually work up. This teaches her how to get control of her body and her emotions, and can be a valuable tool when those fits start to escalate.

Social Interaction

She spends most of her time with you, but it’s never too early to start introducing her to others. Try a play date with a friend and encourage her to share her toys. Lay down ground rules before the play date and use clear warnings to discourage her from “hogging” all her toys.

Kids will be Kids

There is no easy fix for tantrums, and even the best kids will act out once in a while. Sometimes the best solution is to remove you both from the situation and calm down. The best thing about kids is how easily they forget and forgive, and removing her from tantrum temptation and into a quiet place may be the only option that will keep you from losing your mind. Remember that public tantrums don’t make you a bad mother; they just emphasize the fact that you have a normal, healthy child.