Ria is almost three and is amazing us daily with how articulate she’s becoming. The toddler babble is well behind her and her vocabulary and grammar gets more complex every day. This is kind of amazing because she’s hilarious now. It’s also interesting because it seems that we need to teach her better manners. Before I had kids, I think I assumed that teaching manners was “please” and “thank you.” Please and thank you are important. We’ve been good at please and thank you for about a year. Then one day your toddler hip-checks you out of the way and says “move!” and you realize that you really need to start saying “excuse me” because that’s pretty rude! Okay, so now we have three phrases to be polite. But when do you use them? Also, it turns out there are a bunch more.
We love the library and go about once a week. On a recent trip I found the book Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur – A first book of manners. Ria loves dinosaurs right now (also dragons; try and explain the difference to a three year old) and I thought the illustrations were super cute (what can I say, I’m an illustrator, I won’t take ugly books home). Also, manners were on my mind so it came home with us. As a side note, this was the last time I could let Sunny roam free in the kids’ section as she is now only interested in perching on top of that bookshelf. Crazy little monkey.
I love this book! It is going straight on my next Amazon order. The little girl goes to the grocery store and meets a dinosaur. They have a bunch of social interactions and have to use their manners. It’s adorable. It’s got a great rhythm and is pretty funny. Ria loved it so much that we read it at every nap and bedtime for a week. Also, it was a great way to get talking about manners and allowed her to practice saying a bunch of polite phrases. The book will give a situation and ask what the person should say, then on the next page have the polite thing to say. So I would read and Ria would say the polite phrases (we read this way a lot as she likes to memorize books).
So, dinosaurs and beyond, here’s what we’re working on right now:
Please – she’s pretty good when she’s not tired. When she’s tired it’s a whiny “I want!” but a reminder will get a sweet “please!”
Thank you – Also mastered when she’s in a good mood. :)
May I be excused? - as opposed to just leaving the table when she’s bored of eating.
Excuse me - as opposed to “move!”
No thank you – A big one, because she currently says “I don’t like to.” It makes sense because we ask “would you like…?” and she would not like. However, it sounds a bit harsh when you ask her if she would like a snuggle and she says “no, I don’t like you.”
Hello – As opposed to staring blankly when people say hi to her. Also, goodbye. She’s shy, but she doesn’t hide; she just stares. This is very much in progress still.
The biggest thing I’ve realized is that I need to remember to be polite and respectful both to Ria and around her, because we’re our children’s role models and they soak up our speech and mannerisms like adorable little sponges. Now if I could just get her dad to say “excuse me” after he burps instead of laughing…
How do you teach manners to your little one?