Most of us are familiar with that scenario: We are not sure when it is the right point to start teaching our kids good manners.
But it is actually not a matter of when, it is rather a matter of how to do it.
Etiquette expert Emily Post once claimed "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what ford you use."
So here is some ideas what you can work on:
Hello and goodbye It is as simple as it sounds. Even before our precious little ones can speak we can encourage them to wave hello and goodbye. This will give them a first impression of how to recognize and greet people.
Using the magic words Get your toddler into the habit of saying "please" and "thank you" at an early age even though they don't fully grasp the meaning behind that being younger than 2 1/2. This can be done playfully by using baby sign language. Have them stretch out their hand and rub over their heart in a rotating motion in order to express the word "please". You can teach them to say "thank you" by putting your open hand to your lip and then bring it forward towards the person you want to thank. Prompt them gently in situations like "What do we say after we receive a gift?"
Basic table manners During toddlerhood, offer your child food on non breakable plates and encourage him to use his utensils. If he starts throwing food on the floor, gently but firmly make clear that you don't accept that behavior and that it will have consequences. For instance tell him "We don't throw food on the floor. If you are done eating say 'no, thank you!'" At the age of three your child should be able to use fork and spoon and to sit still in his high chair at the table for about 15 minutes. Three-year-olds should have also learned how to wipe their mouths.
Apologizing At the age of 2 1/2 to three children start to understand the basic concept of feeling empathy. However at this age they are usually not able to realize when it is right to apologize. Parents should gently prompt their children right away when they do something wrong. You can say: "We don't hit. Hitting hurts!" which eventually should lead to "When we were mean to someone, we say 'I am sorry!'"
Always keep in mind that your own behavior matters, too. If you are trying to teach your child to greet other people nicely, start by doing it to your spouse everyday and let your child learn from that. Before the age of five their brains quadruple every day and they soak in every piece of information like a sponge.
So be a nice role model by displaying how you want your kids to behave.