We drill it into their minds that “please” and “thank you” are the magic words, but do our toddlers really grasp the concept of why they are saying these things? As parents, when you hear those magic words being said with a snotty attitude, it makes you wonder if you’re getting through to them at all. In order to truly raise a toddler with manners, you have to show him that being polite works, and that there is a reason that he should be listening to his mom. As a mom, the best way to do this is to lead by example.
When you’re frustrated or irritated, your instinct is to raise your voice. There are those times when your toddler won’t listen and you just want to scream and yell until he does. We all have those days, but the truth is that even though yelling works on a case-by-case basis, it doesn’t help in the long run. You can be a lot more effective (and perhaps even scarier) by keeping your voice quiet and your tone calm. Your toddler will have to stop yelling in order to listen and, if you stop yelling at him, there’s a good chance that he’ll stop yelling at you.
The Silent Treatment
Quiet may not always work and, when it doesn’t, step it up a notch and use the silent treatment. You use it with your friends and your significant other, why not with your toddler? When he starts to act out and forgets his manners, simply cross your arms and look at him with that stern look that says “you really thought that was going to work?”
Don’t Respond to Bad Manners
In the inevitable instance that your toddler does display manners, don’t let him get his way! If he wants a snack and he demands it instead of using “please” and asking, then don’t give him his snack no matter how much he cries. You don’t have to discourage bad manners in order to reinforce the good. If you yell or correct him, he will probably think that he can do the same thing again and just be corrected. If he doesn’t get his snack, he’ll have a lot more incentive to use good manners the next time around.
You lead by example, you don’t respond to the bad manners when they happen, and you keep it up! One slip up can make your toddler believe that there’s a loophole and all of your hard work will go down the drain. The puppy dog eyes are a fierce weapon against all parents, but don’t fall prey to the toddler tricks. You can do it!
Remain diligent and you will be able to ensure that your toddler gets good manners down and stays on track. If you succeed, those manners will be ingrained in his mind and he will grow up learning how to treat others with respect. You’ll be proud parents whenever you hear him ask instead of demand without being prompted, which will make up for feeling guilty every time you resist a puppy dog stare.