A quick guide to good manners

Mind Your
Manners

If your child's behavior makes you want to throw a tantrum, or you're sure you'd be a millionaire by now if you had a dollar for every time you needed to remind him to say "please," you're not alone. Follow our expert's guide to manners and you'll soon be saying "thank you" for these tips.

Girl having tantrum

Sharon Pieters, a parenting coach who created Child Minded after her contract with Nanny 911 ended, encourages parents to follow these guidelines and enforce them. The key to good manners? Consistency.

Teach manners early and often

"Teaching manners is one of the most important aspects of child rearing and I believe it starts when your child is a toddler," says Pieters. "The most opportune time to instill manners is during the toddler years through to your child's 3rd birthday."

Two words: please and thank you

Parenting trends may come and go, but good behavior always needs to be taught. "Parents have to stay on track and ensure that their child always uses the words 'thank you,'" says Pieters. "Please is another one -- when a young child asks me for something and doesn't say "please," I look at the child and say, "sure you can have that, however you need to wait a while and come back and ask me using better manners." The child then returns a few minutes later saying "please can I have..."

Yes, you can tame tantrums

Isabel Z., mom of two near Los Angeles, remembers when her two-year-old daughter had a meltdown in the middle of a mall. "Of course we had to pass the indoor double-decker carousel on our way out," she explains. "She started screaming 'horsies, horsies' and I told her sorry, there's no time, and promised to bring her back another day with her brother. Well, there's no reasoning with a two year old. I started walking towards the exit and she got up and bolted towards me. I picked her up, even as she struggled to run back to the carousel. It was no fun restraining an extremely loud and upset toddler, but I did what I had to do."

It's okay to just say no

"If you put your own anxieties and emotional needs aside, you will be able to clearly see that children thrive on structure, manners, boundaries and discipline," says Pieters. "It is okay to say 'no' to your child."

Isabel Z. agrees, and her toddler's "mall meltdown" story has a happy ending: "I wasn't late picking up the older one."

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