Since becoming a parent I have had the opportunity to be around children now more than ever as I have a child. One thing that has changed is my perspective and view on children’s behavior and attitudes.
Unfortunately, I have learned that in some instances children, toddlers, in particular, are unpredictable and explosive.
To be honest, I also think that this behavior is also learned and I will explain why.
Remember how I have been around children now more than ever? Well, I have noticed that certain behaviors in these children are behaviors that come from their parents.
But I will not linger on this, I will instead share ways that you can instill good manners in toddlers, by practicing positive discipline for your toddler.
Let’s begin by explaining the toddlers’ behavior.
According to Jean Piaget, a child development theorist, from 12 – 18 months toddlers learn through trial and error. They are continuously taking ideas they have in their heads and trying them out as they explore their world. (Source)
In my experience with my daughter, I have noticed a few things and while watching other children as well.
- Children, toddlers, and kids are all little sponges. They absorb everything around them both object and behaviors.
- They are perfect blank slates, so everything is new and interesting.
- As they become more comfortable in their environment they begin to imitate those around them.
- They learn through actions and consistency and a great way to maintain that consistency is through routine; children thrive on it.
- Let’s not forget how quick and easy they learn too.
With the previously numbered behaviors, it is almost easy to know what to do to promote good manners and discipline in toddlers.
According to Michelle Crouch “At around 18 months, kids begin to grasp that there are certain accepted social graces. Set the stage now by being polite yourself and helping your child think about other people’s feelings — after all, good manners are first and foremost about being thoughtful and considerate of others.”
Good Manners & Toddlers
As you have realized and just read, children learn very fast. Good manners are something we have all learned from our parents or someone who took the time to teach us.
But what if instead of trying to teach and explain good manners was something you never had to worry about?
How? Well, learned behavior.
For example, every single time my daughter hands me something I say “thank you” and smile. Every. Single. Time.
Eventually, I am sure, once she learns to speak that she will say thank you every time someone gives her something.
Another example, when she is in the way, I always toucher her shoulder or her back and say “excuse me”.
By hearing and seeing us, the parents, practice this behavior they will too. It will become almost an instinct.
But if you need just a little bit more insight on how to teach good manners then I will help you out.
How To Instill Good Manners In Toddlers
We already know children learn through many channels and one of them happens to be through play.
- Play with dolls or stuffed animals and practice saying: “thank you”, “may I”, “excuse me”, “you’re welcome”.
- Encourage verbal response when something happens and ask to say “thank you” or “sorry” whatever applies to the situation.
- Be a ROLE MODEL: practice the behavior your desire from your toddler
- BE PATIENT: like most things, it takes time for them to learn and apply it to their behavior.
Effective Tips To Discipline A Toddler
Here are the practices I apply to the discipline of my toddler.
- Consistency (Repetition) :
- Positive Reinforcement (Praise)
These four practices are difficult to follow through at times, believe me. But they WORK!
But please know one thing, toddlers are just big, walking babies. They do not understand many things and although resilient they are very fragile. If you find yourself lacking patience, step away, and take a break.
It is our job as their parents to teach them the right way to behave, react, and treat others. Violence is never the key.
I was brought up in a very strict household, raised by Hispanic parents and grandparents in Puerto Rico. They always had the best intentions but their approach could have used a little bit more gentleness.
NOTE: Most behavior has a reason, never dismiss consistent alarming behavior in a toddler.
Every child is different and required different needs but they all deserve we try our very best for all of our sakes.
Final Thoughts On Manners & Toddlers
Positive disciple for toddlers can be fun too. I love catching my daughter doing something she is not supposed to because it is an opportunity to teach her with love and patience.
Do not get me wrong, at times she will scream and fuss and throw herself on the floor because I took something away that could have harmed her.
It is my reaction that is important, always remain calm and speak in a soft and sure voice, explain the reason why you are taking things away, or removing her from a space he or she is not supposed to be in.
Even if they do not understand the words themselves, they will expect verbal communication. Over time, once there is a verbal understanding from your toddler, life will be less hard.
But for now, whenever she does something wrong and then something right, I praise her. I reinforce good behavior and focus on the positive which will promote obedience.
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