How to Teach Valuable Manners to Your Toddlers

Manners take a lifetime of learning because there are always more ways to apply them. That’s why it’s important to teach manners to children while they’re young, as toddlers, so that they can develop them with time.

Raising a Polite Toddler: How To Teach Manners

When To Teach Manners to Toddlers

The best time to start teaching manners is within the toddler stage. At this stage, children can follow simple directions and are more eager to please adults. It is also the time when they develop habits and patterns, and you’ll want them to pick up on good ones.

The toddler stage is when children begin to understand the meaning of right and wrong. It is when they begin to grow their independence and test themselves and the people around them.

Toddlers are also the most honest people so they’re easier to forgive when they “forget” their manners. It will go a long way for both child and parent when we teach manners at young age.

Raising a Polite Toddler: How To Teach Manners

Basic Manners for Young Toddlers

Manners can be introduced and taught to children as young as one year old. When children become more verbal, around age two, they can adapt their manners into their behavior even more.

Basic manners for young toddlers should be introduced by example and practiced with repetition. They will gradually pick up on them and understand their importance as they get older. These basic manners include:

  • Kindness and sharing
  • Saying “please” and “thank you”
  • Basic table manners
  • Saying “hello” and “goodbye”
  • Saying “sorry” and “excuse me”

Advanced Manners For Older Toddlers and Preschoolers

These are manners that you’ll want to start introducing at a young age but can be a little more complicated to grasp. But again, they’re great for introducing at a young age, once your child has mastered their basic manners.

Some of these more advanced manners are lessons of ethics and may require punishment, like time outs, particularly for children with siblings.

  • No fighting, hitting, or pushing
  • Apologizing
  • Sharing and taking turns
  • Not giving orders or trying to control others
  • Advanced table manners
  • Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Not picking your nose
  • Not interrupting others when talking
  • Saying “excuse me” to get someone’s attention
  • Always ask permission
  • If you can’t do something, ask for help
  • Keeping negative opinions and comments to yourself
  • No whining or complaining
  • Thank someone when they give you something
  • Reciprocate friendliness- when someone asks how you are you answer and ask about them
  • No name calling or teasing others
  • Offering to help others
  • When asked to do a favor, help others with a smile

How To Teach Manners to Toddlers

Teach kids manners is by example and repetition

Children aspire to be like their parents so be the role model. Explain to them why you do or say things the way you do. Give them the opportunity to do the same and remind them politely when they forget. Show them that there are benefits of being polite and independent. Reading books, with their favorite characters, presenting good manners is another great form of learning by example.

Introduce them to the basics before diving into everything else

Some things are a bit more complex and take more understanding and practice to truly grasp, like sharing, apologizing, and complaining. Start with the simpler things, like “please” and “thank you” as well as “hello” and “goodbye.”

Encourage but don't force it

A constant reminder is fantastic for children to build memory and understanding but forcing a child to say something they do not want to may create a larger problem. Instead of telling them to say or do something, ask them if they want to. Eventually they will do it on their own.

Correct them politely

Your child needs to feel comfortable with making mistakes and excited about correcting them. You do not want to ruin their self esteem by correcting them in a negative way.

Positive encouragement

Children are more likely to repeat good behavior when they see you get excited. Things like cheering for joy and giving high-fives are perfect for starting out. Rewarding older toddlers can include things like a behavior chart and sticker or treat rewards.

Be consistent

Remind your child when they forget to do or say something. Continue with positive rewarding and recognition of good behavior and, depending on the situation, punishments for bad behavior.

Don't expect a perfectly polite child

Just like us, children are not perfect. They will make mistakes, they will forget to use their manners, and they will embarrass us. It’s part of their job.

Don't compare to other children

This is extremely hard sometimes because we often compare to make sure our kids are on the right path. But the truth is that every child is different and they grasp certain things more easily or quickly than others.


Raising a Polite Toddler: How To Teach Manners

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June 27, 2019 5:38 pm

Such a great post! Manners are so important and sadly seem to be fading away.

June 27, 2019 7:53 pm

Love this post! Every parent needs to read it.

June 28, 2019 1:02 pm

Love this! It can be so hard to teach but it’s so satisfying when they’ve learned it!

June 28, 2019 4:49 pm

Great advice! I think the basic manners you shared are so essential and yet in today’s world so many people have forgotten them.

Emily | The Multitasking Mom
June 29, 2019 6:53 am

Love this! Manners are so so important. We try to model and enourage and teach these behaviors at home. The hardest part I find is now that my oldest is in school, he brings home some of the behaviors of the other kids or he’ll preach what is right to… Read more »