5 Basic Manners to Teach Your Toddler (and how to do it)
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Tired of your toddler misbehaving, disobeying, or throwing temper tantrums? Wondering if it really is possible to teach a young toddler to have any manners at all? As a mom of 9, I can say, YES! The fact is, it is never too early to teach kids the basics of manners. Not only does it make our lives better since we parents have to live with them, but it also teaches them character qualities like self control, selflessness, and kindness. Even if you’ve tried teaching your kid manners before, getting some fresh tips and ideas about how to teach manners is always a good idea.
I hear you, “When do I start teaching manners?” Or, “How young is too young to teach manners?”
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Teaching these concepts in my home begins as early as they start eating and start talking. Honestly, it is much more efficient to train them with the “big kid” expectations rather than undo the “little kid” expectations later.
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What I’ve done here, is define what each manner means, then I’ve demonstrated what it really looks like in real life.
Sometimes the explanation will include what it looks like in the home while other times I’ve also included what the manner will look like outside of the home.
Toddler Manner #1: Respect for adults
Whether parents, grandparents, teachers, or someone at the store, library, or sporting event, kids need to learn to be respectful toward adults.
How do we teach this manner out in the world?
- Make eye contact
- Introduce themselves
- Speak clearly
How do we teach this manner around the home?
- Come right away when called
- Acknowledge what they’ve been told (we require a yes sir or ma’am)
- Do what they are asked without grumbling
- No backtalk
A simple way to make this easier is to have a set of house rules. I have a template you can use to do that & it’s so cute! Just tell me where to send that below!
Basic House Rules Template
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Toddler Manner #2: Respect for siblings
Although conflicts will always occur, children can be taught and required to treat their siblings with respect. They can count on never (at least ideally) being mistreated in their own home.
How do we teach this manner?
- You must be helpful
- Always be understanding
- Be willing to help. Toddlers can do all kinds of simple jobs that you give them. A perfect example with older in our home is when someone is going to be gone during a time when chores are required. My kids have to make arrangements for someone to take over on they responsibilities if they are going to be gone. This is the perfect opportunity their siblings practice being gracious in taking on extra chores.
- Everyone must be mindful of others. Whether it is time spent in the shower, keeping a shared bedroom picked up, or just using an indoor voice when inside, kids should be mindful and respectful of their siblings.
- Be present. Come to the events and activities of siblings to cheer them on or to offer moral support. This is a big one in our home.
- Return the things you borrow
- Behave with the golden rule in mind: always love others more than yourself. Really, doesn’t everything boil down to this anyway? This is a simple concept to understand, but it’s not always something to do. But, there are plenty of opportunities to practice this.
Toddler Manner #3: Use please, thank you, and you’re welcome
These words are just so important. And, they seem to be so lacking in the world today. Teaching your toddler these words will be so noticed. People recognize kids with good manners – and they appreciate it! In our home, we require these words nearly all the time.
How do we teach this manner?
- repeat as necessary
Toddler Manner #4: Use table manners
This is a big one for me.
Kids are disrespecting everyone at the table if they are not using utensils, slurping their soup, or talking with their mouth open among many other rude and gross infractions.
Basic table manners are a must, especially in a large family when a lot of people are all eating together. This is also nice when you are eating in the home of others or entertaining guests in your home.
The basic noise level alone is always loud just with conversation during a family meal. If there are issues with not using table manners, chaos would soon follow with all the noise.
How do we teach this manner?
- teach and train
- model – this means everyone at the table models
- sometimes we practice with pretend food and drink
- repeat, and require at all meals. Consistency is key
Toddler Manner #5: Apologize when needed
This means a sincere apology that includes an admission of wrong in addition to an acknowledgment of the feelings that this wrong doing put into motion.
Honestly, you probably all know adults who don’t know how to apologize. This is an essential skill to teach toddlers in addition to it being a way of using proper manners.
- I spoke of our peace chair before, and this is a main component in our apology process much of the time.
- I am still modeling a correct apology for my kids at times. They are prone to being lazy about it
- Require this every time
- You can read more about our apology process in How to Teach Your Kids What I’m Sorry Really Means.
Of course there are many more facets to teaching and training toddlers & kids, but these are the five fundamental manners that we are very purposeful in implementing in our home.
Training your toddler in basic manners will be something you will be so worth the time spent. And, doing it at a young age reaps numerous rewards that will last a lifetime. It also opens the door for all the other things you will be teaching your kid as they grow older.
What do manners look like in your home?
Looking for more on manners? Try 20 Manners All Boys Should Know and How to Nurture a Heart For Learning – Table Manners, and How to Nurture a Heart For Learning – Phone Manners.