Tips to Teaching Manners to an Infant
Updated: Mar 31
As parents, we all know that infants and babies are prone to anger fits or tantrum. And as much as we love our adorable infants, there are times when your infant’s manners, or rather lack of manners, can really test your patience!
While it may take some time before your little one really learns the skills to behave well, it is never too early to start teaching him or her the basics of good manners. If you start early to introduce the idea of manners across to your child, he or she will catch on faster and more easily when you introduce more specific behavioural instructions in the future.
What you need to know about manners
Fact # 1: Good manners play a part in your child’s social development
Just as you would likely dislike a colleague or a neighbour who is impolite, an ill-mannered child will likely be someone who people, children or adults alike, will turn away from as much as possible. Children will less likely want to play with your child if he or she is unwilling to share or take turns!
Fact # 2: Good manners is part of a good habit
Being polite and displaying good manners is not something that you can just “act” out when you are placed in a situation where you need to be polite. Instead, behaving politely is a way of life. Starting early by inculcating manners to your infant at a young age can help to make being polite an automatic behaviour that your child displays at all times!
Fact #3: Learning manner is a process that takes a lifetime
The process of learning manners is not one that can be completed. Even today, we are learning the ways in which we can politely manage people! So, do not expect this process to happen overnight. Manage your expectations in the same way you won’t expect a young baby to say thank you to you!
Tips to help your infant understand manners
Tip #1: Go back to basics
A little after your child turns one, he or she would likely be starting to speak. Around this time, start teaching them how to say “please” or thank you”. Saying “please” and “thank you” is usually the first lesson in the manner classroom that parents try to teach their child.
Make this process a light and fun one. You can try prompting your child to say these words by saying “Aunty just gave you a sweet, what must you say?” or “What is the magic word?”.
Remember that your infant will take a while before he or she remembers to be polite. So, when he or she does say “please” or “thank you”, remember to praise the behaviour so as to reinforce it!
Tip #2: Monkey see, monkey do
Your child will inevitably model your behaviours and actions. Therefore, if you want your child to be polite, you have to be polite. So, if someone is in the way, politely say “excuse me” or if your partner does something nice for you, say “thank you”. This way, your infant will get used to listening to and watching these polite words and behaviours in daily life, so much so that he or she will use them in the future!
Tip #3: Teach sharing
In your infant’s early years, he or she will begin to understand the concept of sharing and turn-taking. Once your child starts to make new friends at play dates or infant care centres, it will be good for you to teach them the value of sharing.
For example, you could put some rules in place. Allow each child to take turns with a toy that everyone wants to play with. Tell the children that if anyone does not want to share or is making a fuss, play time will end!
This way, your child will learn that one has to share, or else no one gets to play! If your infant is doing great, encourage the behaviour with positive statements like “That was really nice of you to share your toy with your friend!”
Likewise, you have to learn to share too! Don’t let your infant catch you snatching anything from your partner!
It is never too early to start teaching your infant manners and ways to be polite. But keep in mind that even if your child understands the concept of good behaviour, he or she will not always put it to use. As mentioned, learning manners is a lifelong process, and in this process, patience is key!
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