Raising a polite toddler
Age-by-age Activities

Three- to four-year olds can be naughty and nice at the same time. However, their naughtiness may innocently border on disrespect, and that’s where you need to be on red alert. For example, tell your little girl it’s study time, and she’s unlikely to say, “Mama, may I please play for five more minutes?” Instead, she’s more likely to seethe and scream, “No!” The reason for this seemingly rude outpour? She’s grappling with new language skills while gauging the power she can wield over the family! So how do you make her go from “No!” to “Please may I”?

Here are a few ideas on how you could build concepts of politeness and respect in your child:

Be respectful

If you don’t give her your ear when she’s desperate to confide in you, she’ll think it’s perfectly okay to behave in a similar manner when you want her to be attentive. You are your little girl’s mirror. So, ensure that you exhibit respectful behaviour with her and others, especially when your angel is in the vicinity. For instance, if you are in a rage over something, don’t let off steam by using foul language while she’s around.

Insist on manners

Good manners are the window to respectful behaviour. So, go ahead and teach your child to use the magic words, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ liberally. Encourage her to respect elders by wishing them good morning and good night, and be polite at all times. For instance, if she orders you to get her a glass of water, tell her quietly but firmly, “I will do that only if are polite enough to say the magic word, ‘please’.” Remember to be a shining example of good manners, if you want your little girl to follow suit.

Use discipline

The art of disciplining your tot when she displays disrespectful behaviour is to be kind yet firm. Kindness will show that you respect her, while being firm shows your keenness for what needs to be done. So, if your little girl throws a tantrum in the restaurant because she wants to go home and none of your coaxing works, kindly but firmly take her outside until she’s done. Then firmly tell her, “Now let’s go back inside and eat” and return to the restaurant. She will gradually learn to graciously accept what others want, and adopt desirable behaviour.

Suggest alternatives

Modify improper behaviour by telling your kiddo in a quiet and non-threatening way that her behaviour is not polite. Go ahead and suggest alternatives for handling the situation to give her ways out of the unpleasant situation.

Praise often

The best way to reinforce your child’s respectful behaviour is to praise her liberally. Be specific with your praise so that she understands what she is being praised for. For example, if she picked up your fallen toothbrush, say, “Thank you for picking up my toothbrush”, instead of a vague “That’s like my good girl!”

With these tips get set to soon be known as the parents of “that polite little girl”!

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