Everyone wants their preschool aged children to develop good manners, but many families are unsure about how to actually teach these manners. While it’s sometimes developmentally appropriate for preschoolers to be rude or lack manners, as a parent, you can begin to guide them and teach your child manners in a number of ways.
The most important way to teach your child manners is by example. No matter what else you teach a young child, they will look at their parents’ examples and behave accordingly. Children at this age usually want to emulate their parents and tend to mimic the words and actions of the adults in their lives. Even if parents go out of their way to teach manners, if they are not behaving courteously toward others themselves, children will likely follow the example over the instructions.
Modeling polite behavior, then, is one of the most effective ways of teaching manners to preschool-aged children. Whenever you ask for something from a family member, make sure you use “please” and “thank you.” When your child (or any other family member) uses these polite words, compliment him or her and make a point of pointing out and applauding their politeness. This way of teaching your child manners can be fun for the whole family.
Manners, of course, are much more than simply saying please and thank you. Teaching children kindness and empathy also goes a long way toward teaching preschoolers manners. Many children this age have trouble with empathy because they just don’t understand that other people may feel in the same way that they do. Explaining that it hurts somebody else’s feelings to say something rude, “just like it hurts your feelings” might help them make a first step toward learning empathy, which sometimes needs to predate manners.
Sharing is another aspect to manners. Many preschoolers don’t like to share, for obvious reasons. Sometimes they need to be taught to share, and there are many ways to do that. As a parent, you can help your child learn to share by explaining that just like they like it when they get to use other kids’ toys or read their books, other children might also enjoy getting the chance to use their toys. You can also help kids split time with toys by saying something like, “Maybe you can use the blocks for five minutes and then Johnny can use them for another five minutes.” Alternatively, you can suggest that the children can play with the blocks together.