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This past weekend there were about 10 kids at my family’s house for the weekend, and for the most part, the screaming, crying and whining was kept to a minimum. I started asking my sister-in-law’s friends what they do to teach their infants and toddlers manners. It’s true — you’ll never get your 2-year-old to chew with her mouth closed. But you might be surprised what she can learn if you focus on conveying the idea of manners, the principle that there are ways to behave and ways not to behave.  In my opinion, the most important is:

THE GOLDEN RULE
We can, however, use kids’ tendencies to help them learn. The Golden Rule – treating others the way you want to be treated – is well applied to basic manners. When kids can see how they can benefit from using manners – both the simple and the more complex – they are more apt to use them.

Here is a list we should all aim for (or at least I want to try for!):

Manner #1
When asking for something, say “Please.” When receiving something, say “Thank you.”

Manner #2
Clean up after yourself. Whether at home or at a friend’s house, always pick up after yourself. It’s their mess, so they need to clean it up. If children leave a mess, then remind them that they need to clean up before the next activity can begin, and stick to it.

Manner #3
Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

Manner #4
If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation

Manner #5
When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

Manner #6
When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

Manner #7
Don’t call people mean names.

Manner #8
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.

Manner #9
As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

Manner #10
Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

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Whether it’s washing hands while singing happy birthday two times, learning to cough into the crook of an arm, or staying away from other sick kids, you cannot avoid kids getting sick, BUT there are good habits that can help keep the “cooties” away and keep your child happy and healthy.

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