I blogged awhile back about our usage of baby sign language, and one of the things that I loved at the time was how Miss H was starting to learn manners with basics like “please” and “thank you.”
Now that her words are expanding day by day, Miss H does not sign as much as she used to, but I’m really excited that she is continuing to be polite and use basic manners (which is not to say that she doesn’t, for example, throw her sippy cup on the dog’s head… she is a toddler after all).
Miss H’s basic manners right now, at 18 months, include the following:
When someone sneezes or coughs, Miss H is quick to say “bless you.” Not only is this gesture adorable in its own right, as her momma I love seeing Miss H acknowledging others in this way.
The scenario above when Miss H drops the sippy cup on the dog’s head? Generally – especially when she knows mom or dad is watching – this action is followed up with her rubbing her stomach (sign for “sorry”) and whispering “sorry.” Obviously encouraging her to not drop the sippy cup on the dog (or other do other things that warrant an apology) is something we are working on, but in the meantime at least apologizing for one’s actions is a starting point.
“Please” is something that Miss H picked up really quickly when learning sign language, and it’s a standard part of her vocabulary now, both verbal and with signing. When she asks for something more at a meal, for example, I simply say, “What do you say?” and she both signs and says “Please.” She knows the drill! If she really wants something she’ll do a lot of back and forth signing/saying between “more” and “please.”
Another Miss H and the dog scenario is when she wants to move past him to get to where she’s going (he’s a very common roadblock around the house – we’ve nicknamed him “Traffic Jam”). Completely unprompted by us, Miss H will move past him and say “Excuse me Charlie.” So sweet!
We also work on “thank you” with Miss H, but she hasn’t picked up on that one as well. She will say it but with very heavy prompting. I wonder if it’s a little harder for her to understand quite yet exactly why you would say “thank you.” I think there are more obvious “cause and effect” indicators for the others – a sneeze always gets a “bless you,” a “please” gets you what you are asking for, etc.
I don’t know if baby sign language had a strong impact on some of the manners Miss H is learning, but I like to think it has. Learning signs has meant reinforcing certain words and ideas, and to learn a sign you repeat it over and over again. And once those signs become a regular part of your daily interactions, it makes sense that the signs would turn into words.
While we continue to encourage good manners, we also understand that tantrums are par for the course and we already know (as does the dog!) that Miss H is not going to be sweet all of the time. But I’m hopeful that if we can instill good manners at this stage in the game, then after a tough tantrum maybe we can at least get a “sorry” and a hug out of it at the end. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But all we can do is lay the groundwork and see how things go.
Have you worked on teaching your LO manners? Have they easily picked up on politeness or has it been a struggle?