Teaching Toddlers Manners (Before They Can Talk)

toddler manners

Like most kids, when our son learned he could point and make noise to ask for something he wanted, he also realized he could ask really loudly and aggressively to get our attention. That made my wife and I ask ourselves how can we teach manners before our son can talk?

The Secret of “Tah”

The solution we came up with was using “tah” instead of the word “please”. “Tah” was easy for him to say and we made him say it in a nice voice before we gave the object he wanted.

At first we just told him to say “tah”… then once he got the hang of it, we told him to “ask politely” whenever he forgot.

The change has been remarkable. Instead of constant screaming and pointing, we now have a son who points and asks nicely for what he wants. He learned it pretty quickly since there was the strong, immediately motivation of getting the toy he couldn’t reach.

Sign Language

Many parents use sign language as a tool to talk with their toddlers before they have learned to talk. However, our son was never interested in it so it didn’t work for us. From the moment he could make a sound, he wanted to make different sounds for different needs.

If you have a child that is interested in hand motions, sign language is a great way to say “please”. “Please” is signed by making small circles around your heart with one hand.

Our friends who have had success with sign language recommend using it yourself. It’s much easier for a toddler to understand “please” when he seems mom and dad using it with each other. Who knew toddlers learned through repetition?

Please Doesn’t Mean Spoiled

Just because a child says “please”, doesn’t mean they always get what they want. That’s called being spoiled. We’d never let our son play with a boiling pot of water simply because he said “tah”. However, both “tah” and sign language were a great introduction to manners.

Any other techniques we missed? Leave a comment and let us know how you taught manners to your young kids.

About Author Steve Hanson

Steve Hanson is the author of The Dax and Zippa Series, Monsters Midnight Feast, Wizards In The West, Butterflies Don't Chew Bubblegum and The Whens. View his Profile.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Toddlers Manners (Before They Can Talk)

  1. Loved Tah! We used a similar approach, which worked well even when our daughter learned to talk. It was called The Quiet Hand. Simply put, we taught our daughter to put her hand on her Mom or Dad’s arm or leg when she wanted our attention. We would acknowledge her by touching her hand, or just nodding at her. That let her know that we were aware she wanted something without saying a word. We made sure to actually follow through on finding out what she wanted once we were available. If we were not going to be free for a while we would tell her so. It seemed to make her much more willing to wait quietly, and we never had the problem seen all too often, of the whiny kid trying to get a parent’s attention.

    • Thanks for sharing the Quiet Hand! That sounds like another great option for people to choose from. Glad it worked for you.

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