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Etiquette is all about building good relationships. Children need to learn how to act in ways that are respectful, considerate, and honest. These are the fundamental principles of all etiquette, and they are the tools needed to build strong relationships with family and friends.
But how young can we go? Can toddlers learn concepts like respect, honesty and consideration? While toddlers may not understand principles and concepts, children this age can learn some basic behaviors that are fundamental to developing strong relationships.
Most three year-olds, for example, are able to understand that sharing and caring make the other person feel good. They know this because they can see the smiles that sharing and caring bring. A smile is concrete. Toddlers can see the results of positive behavior in the smiles. And they can identify with the feeling they get from making someone else smile—it makes them smile too.
Listening is another behavior that children can learn very young. Invest in listening to children and they can surprise you with the patience, control and connection they are capable of.
Protect the value of your words. From the time we first sense that the sounds we make have meaning, each of us becomes responsible for aligning our words and actions with the world that we all share. The better job we do the more people trust us. Make trust and truth telling a foundation of your relationship with children from the start.
It will take much patience, repetition, and good behavior on your part to teach your toddlers to share and care. But hang in there—it’s well worth it!