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Manners 3- and 4-year-olds should know

It's never too early to teach your kids manners, and it's a great way to boost their confidence in any social situation. Some basic manners for 3- and 4-year-olds include:

  • Say "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome." Teaching your kids these basic words is as simple as using them yourself every day, both with your child and with other adults. Also teach your child to write thank you notes, even if the notes are just a simple drawing or a card with stickers.
  • Say "hello" and "good-bye." When you have friends over, teach your child to say "hello" when your friends arrive and "good-bye" when they leave.
  • Meet people with eye contact and a handshake. While shaking hands has almost become a lost art for children, it is a great way to give kids a little extra boost of self-confidence in a new situation. Practice making eye contact and shaking hands with your child, and encourage your child to use this new skill when meeting someone new, like a friend's parents or a teacher.
  • Say "excuse me." Model this for your child at every opportunity, like when you accidentally bump into your child, or even when you are trying to get your child's attention when he or she is preoccupied with another task.
  • Use proper table manners. At this age, your child should know to sit still at the table and leave only when excused. Kids should also know how to handle a fork and spoon, and how to use a napkin. At this point, you can also start to gently teach your child not to talk with his or her mouth full and to ask others to pass desired items instead of reaching for them.
  • Wait your turn. Even younger kids can learn to stand in line, or to wait until it's their turn to play with a toy or go down the slide.

Don't expect perfection in every situation. To give your child the best foundation for using good manners during the day, make sure he or she is getting enough rest and has a healthy diet. It's hard for anybody to be polite and patient when they are over-tired or stressed. Be sure to use gentle corrections when something goes wrong. Remember, you are always the best model of good manners for your child!

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