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How to Teach Manners?

How can I start to teach my two-year-old good manners?

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How can I start to teach my two-year-old good manners?

The Bump Expert

Having what adults might think of as “good manners” is a completely foreign concept to most toddlers -- they're right up there with taxes and mortgages. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start to lay the early groundwork.

A two-year-old might not get why on earth she has to share her favorite toy with a friend on a play date, but you can clearly explain to her that she’ll have her own turn to play in one minute. First though, make sure you recognize that she’s upset. Say it out loud. Labeling her emotions helps validate her feelings, and the more specific you can be about the item and length of time until she gets her toy back, the better. In the meantime, give her something else to play with as a distraction.

As far as “please” and “thank you” are concerned, it’s almost never too soon to introduce those words into the conversation. The more you use them, the more she will, too. Remember that toddlers grow by leaps and bounds, which means in just a few months, the concept of sharing and being polite will have far greater meaning to her than it does today. Be patient.

Plus, More from The Bump:

Biggest Toddler Problems... Solved!

How to Get Your Toddler to Do Stuff They Don’t Want to Do

How to Teach a Child What "No" Means

Jeanette Sawyer Cohen, PhD, clinical assistant professor of psychology in pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City