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How Rude! An Age-by-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Manners

by Erin Dower

What's the path to good manners for your children? Get age-appropriate tips for raising polite children, from toddlers to teens, who behave well at the dinner table and beyond.

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Ages 1-2: Saying the Magic Words


Your little ones will be busy bodies at the table and elsewhere, so be patient as they're developing the skills to sit at the table, eat with utensils, and say the magic words. Try these activities with your toddler:

  • Use stuffed animals, dolls, or puppets to play dinnertime or teatime and practice saying "May I," "Please," "Thank-you," and "You're welcome."
  • Encourage him to say "Excuse me" for burping (and bumping into others), and "I'm sorry" for being naughty. Don't make a big deal of burps and messes at the table when he's still little. It will take time to pick up good table manners.
  • Have your children hand you their cup or bowl when they're finished. This is a precursor to helping clear the table. They can help bring napkins and kid-friendly dinnerware to and from the table, too.

Next: Ages 3-6: Playing Well With Others

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