It’s true, it can be really hard to teach your 2-year-old child to chew with his mouth closed, but you may be surprised to see how much impact you can have in his behavior if you focus on the idea of manners. As a matter of fact, your kid has actually learned this lesson for some time now, as he had tested his limits and gauged your reaction. If you implement the idea of manners from an early start and with frequency, your child will catch on faster when you start adding some specific rules.
You’re his role model. It is known that kids learn though observation and imitation. So you have the duty to sett an example. We know, the theory it’s easy, the practice it’s killing us (How faithfully do you write your thank-you notes?). It may sound simplistic, but the best way to teach a child to be well mannered is to have them yourself. For example if your spouse is standing on your way, say “Excuse me, may I pass?”. In this way your child will get used of hearing courteous speech around the house and he will use it when he’s outdoors.
Start with the basics. “Thank you!” and “Please!” are usually the first bit of courtesy that any parent tries to teach, and you should start as soon as your child starts to communicate. It’s going to take some time until he learns to say “please” and “thank you” every time it’s necessary, but once he get’s it, it will stick with it for ever.
Eating together at the table should be a must, not an option. One of the hardest behaviors a parent needs to teach his child it’s to stay still for more than five minutes. You know that in some point you will go to an event and he will need those stay still skills, so dinner at home it’s a terrific practice time. But be reasonable when you set your goals. Twenty minutes at the dinner table but on the chair can be a terribly hard work for your child. And then again, remember to acknowledge him for his accomplishment. For instance, when you’re having dinner at some friends tell him that now he has the chance to show off his new gained sitting-skills. If he succeeds, praise him for his effort but don’t exaggerate with it. You don’t want him to believe he’s doing something beyond what’s normal.
Encourage him to be opened. After your child learns to speak, he can start saying “hello” and “goodbye”. Of course, once he can say “hello” in a very quiet way, and the next time he can hide behind your leg. But it’s a start and in time, with practice, he will understand that it’s a nice thing to say something when he meets someone. The best thing with teaching salutations it’s that they pave the way for more advanced stuff like “It’s nice to meet you” or shaking hands.
Start with teaching him to say “hello” when you go to visit your parents. Prepare him for the meeting and practice with him what he has to say. But if is the first time he meets his grandpa, it may be shy so you should also work with your father so he won’t get hurt if the kids doesn’t want to speak with him.
Sharing is caring. Teach your kid to share everything that he has with other people. From children perspective, this is an outrageous thing to ask. But you will do him a favor if you teach him that not all the toys are his, and if a toy it’s a kid’s favorite, all of them should have a turn playing with it as long as the toy’s not being damaged.
You need to act accordingly if the warnings don’t work, if necessary stop the playtime immediately. And finally, remember to praise your child naming the swell thing he just did (It was nice of you to let Timmy play with your ball). A child doesn’t understand very well the concept of sharing, so reinforcing it with praises when he manages to share is important. And remember that you’re leading by example.