Teaching Your Preschooler Good Manners

Children are more moldable when they’re younger and are more receptive towards instructions and doing as they are told than older children. That is why teaching your child manners while they’re still between the ages of 2 and 5 is ideal. Here are a few tips on how to teach your preschooler manners:

Introduce manners as early on as possible.

It’s never too early to start teaching children good behavior, and the sooner you start doing this, the easier your life is going to be as your child grows older. When your preschooler hands you a toy or object, smile and give them a warm “Thank you!” During family mealtimes, make sure to use “Please” or “May I” when making requests. Give your child plenty of opportunities to practice using such phrases and emulating good behavior.

Be a good role model.

Children learn through observation and will pick up behavior exhibited by close family members and parents, so make sure you reinforce good behavior by providing your preschooler with good examples of good manners at home. Not only will this teach your child proper manners, it will also counteract the effect of negative influences your little one might be exposed to while mingling with other children.

Start with simple rules and take it from there.

Learning is a gradual process that requires patience and perseverance. Bombarding your preschooler with different instructions and reminders on what they should do or shouldn’t do won’t have the effect that you want, as children tend to be forgetful when too much is thrown at them. That is why you should prioritize the manners that you want to teach your child and work your way through them one after the other.

Reinforce good behavior through frequent reminders.

Children require a good deal of time and repetition to learn to behave a certain way, so if your preschooler lapses or forgets to use phrases such as “Thank you” or “Please” give them a gentle reminder. A good policy when teaching children manners is to focus on rewarding and celebrating good behavior rather than being bent on punishing poor behavior.

Be consistent when reinforcing positive behavior.

When punishing poor behavior, make sure your preschooler understand why they’re being punished and the consequences of their disruptive behavior on others. If your preschool wreaked havoc at the park by repeatedly throwing sand at other children, let them know that they won’t be allowed to go to the park today as a result. Be clear and consistent, otherwise your child won’t take you seriously.

What to Expect & When

Here are some basic guidelines of what you can expect to teach your preschooler and at what age:

At 2 Years Old: Your preschooler should be able to use phrases such as "Please," "Thank you," and "May I" if you use these terms frequently and become an active role model.

At 3 Years Old: By this age, preschoolers should be able to greet others with a "Hello," wash their hands before and after mealtimes, and remain in their seats during meals. To encourage the development of such behavior, greet your child when you enter the room; wash hands together; and bring toys or coloring books when you go to restaurants to keep your child preoccupied and seated.

At 4-5 Years Old: Greet adults properly while making eye contact and shaking hands, as well as answer the phone under adult supervision. Encourage such behavior by practicing greetings with your preschooler, familiarizing them with visiting adults beforehand, and play role-playing games with phones.