How to Teach Toddlers About Good Manners

Teaching your child good manners is one of the most important things you can do for him or her. Teaching them at an early age will help ensure that they grow up to be respectful, responsible, and well-mannered adults. A proper upbringing requires both parents and other family members’ cooperation as well as consistency. Every family member must come together to teach children the right way to behave and address each other properly.

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to raise polite kids with good manners. You can begin this process at home by teaching your children some essential rules of etiquette from an early age. It is also necessary that you practice what you preach by following these rules yourself while interacting with your children at all times. We compiled a few easy tips below on how we started teaching our kids polite behavior.

Teach Your Kids to Say Please and Thank You

Please” and “Thank you” are magic words used to have a pleasant interaction when requesting something from someone. These words will be the first impression that your kids will use on other people, so you need to teach them how to use these words at a young age.

There are two ways for you to teach your kids about “please” and “thank you.” Teach by modelling it or lecture about it using stories and anecdotes as examples. If you’re far from being a philosopher, we suggest being a model to the kids.

Start by using please when you ask something of them and a corresponding thank you when they do it. The same should apply when asking your partner or anybody else. This would cultivate the use of the words in the daily interactions in the household. It is best to start doing this when the child is learning to talk and communicate, so the terms are integrated into their communication arsenal.

The use of polite refusal should also be taught. “No thank you,” “please don’t,” “no more please,” and the like should also be modelled together with “Please” and “Thank you.” Your kids should be taught to say “No” because it is alright to refuse a request, but it should be done politely.

Don’t Interrupt People when They Are Talking.

To further develop their communication skills, show them how to listen without interrupting. The best way, again, is to teach by example. When you are with your kids, try not to interrupt them when they are talking. And when they start to interrupt you, politely point it out by saying “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” and teach them that it is rude and you don’t like it. Your kids will be less prone to interrupt others if they see how their role models don’t like it and won’t want to do that. Using excuse me to point out their mistake would also show them that “excuse me” can be used to politely call on the speakers’ attention when necessary.

Teach Them how To Apologize

When your child makes a mistake or does something wrong, teach them how to say “I am sorry” or “I’m sorry,” followed by what he did wrong or what the problem he caused was. This will not only teach children manners but also teach them responsibility and accountability.

Parents must show their children by example how they accept an apology – forgiving the person who made a mistake and moving on but be firm on teaching them the consequences. Keep in mind that this applies to the parents, too. Recognize your shortcomings, apologize to your kids for it, and ask them what you can do to make things right.

Say Excuse Me when Calling Someone’s Attention.

Show your kids that calling someone’s attention should also be done politely. When the kids are playing or lost in their own world, it is only polite that you call out to them with “excuse me.” A gentle nudge or a tap on the shoulder will get their attention, and “excuse me” followed by their name would teach them to associate the excuse me as someone calling them.

Do this consistently, and you will find your toddler using it every time. But make sure that to teach them the appropriate way and reason to do so. A toddler jealous of the attention given to your partner or their older sibling might just abuse the sorcery of “excuse me” to steal you away from the other. Be warned.

Be Gentle with Others (the Golden Rule)

Teach them to treat others as they want others to treat them. Of course, you do this by example. Interact with them calmly and gently and encourage them to do the same. Also, teach them to treat others with kindness. If you start showing aggressive behaviors towards them or any family member, they will pick this up and try it themselves.

If they have siblings, it is an excellent opportunity to teach them about not comparing themselves to others. “The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.” ― Louis C.K.

Clean as You Go; Return Everything Where You Got Them

This is a good habit to teach the kids. Aside from teaching nice manners, this would make it easier for everyone during the cleanup time. Make it a part of the family rules to put everything back when you are finished and never start another activity without cleaning up after yourself. This would be a difficult task for toddlers, so you would have to help them do it. It would take more effort from you but think of it as an investment in raising responsible and neat children. By the time your toddlers have control and fine motor skills, they will be doing it out of habit.

When Someone Is Telling a Story or Sharing Information with You, Listen Attentively.

It would be great if you can listen well and with full attention when the toddler tries to talk to you about something. You may not understand what they are saying, but if you keep eye contact and show them that you are listening. Don’t talk over them while they speak; this will show them that you are interested in what they want to say. Ask questions when they look at you for a response and clearly state what you don’t understand. The toddler will eventually get tired of explaining and look at you like you are an idiot. But calm down; this will encourage them to develop complex communication skills by practicing how to explain their extraordinary and exciting world to a boring adult. In turn, they will reciprocate your actions by listening and trying to understand when you speak and ask questions when you look for a response. This would teach them basic manners and build a stable communication line between you and your toddler.

Social Skills; Common Sense; Interpersonal Communication Skills

It also falls to us parents to teach them about diversity. This may come as a surprise to many parents, but most kids don’t care about differences in physical characteristics. Some toddlers may stare at other people, and it is not in a discriminative nature; but instead, they are curious. What we can do is to tell them that it is bad manners to stare at other people in general and help them learn about what they are curious about. Developing the common sense of toddlers rely heavily on the environment. If the child is surrounded by undesirable behavior in their daily life, it will rub off on them. What we can do is make sure you talk to them about good behavior and what it takes to be well-mannered children.

You don’t have to make this their assignment; they will get there on their own. We have a few years with them as toddlers, and all we can do is show them how to behave and interact with others. Just remember, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Don’t be too hard on yourself if the child does not develop the behavior you want. The kids will be kids, and all we can do is love them and guide them.



I'm a Mom of two daughters, Freya and Ava. I love to share insights on how parents can be better parents. I write about topics that are relevant to me as a parent: things like parenting style, relationship, marriage, and balancing work and family.

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