Yes, it’s possible. Toddlers can have good manners! And the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge in January and February (hosted by Toddler Approved and Coffee Cups and Crayons) is a great time to focus on toddler manners.
My book Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy is designed to help parents and teachers feel comfortable teaching manners to children 2-12 years old. I was very pleasantly surprised when my toddler granddaughter, Zoey, spontaneously shook my hand and said, “Nice to meet you,” before she was even two. I found that my daughter-in-law was doing a fabulous job of teaching manners to a young toddler!
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Our 100 Acts of Kindness Focusing on Toddler Manners – Printable Chart
This challenge could be used for children 1 1/2 or 2 years old. It would work well for preschoolers, too. This is an activity I’m doing whenever Zoey is at my house between Martin Luther King Day and Valentine’s Day this year (typically 4 afternoons a week). Because she’s had so much experience with manners (and often uses good manners), our 100 acts of kindness will be 100 times she uses good manners.
This can be a family project, so you can include your own manners or your whole family’s manners if manners instruction is new or stressful at all to your child. Zoey just thinks it’s fun.
I don’t use behavior charts, and this isn’t about giving rewards for good behavior (although it brings attention to good manners). See “A Montessori Approach to Praise” to understand why I’m not using this for rewards. Instead, I say that we’re counting to 100 good manners because having good manners is a way to be kind. The stickers are just a way to keep track of which number we’re on.
Last year, we used the 100 Acts of Kindness sticker chart.
This year, we’re using the free hundreds chart from Oceans of First Grade Fun. I chose this one because the number spaces are as large as possible for a letter-size piece of paper. It fit the heart stickers I have right now. If you want to use a hundreds chart like this or another design, check out my roundup of free printable extensions for the hundred board.
Toddler Manners Lessons (or Preschooler Manners Lessons) for the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge
I use the basic manners lessons from my book. With a toddler, the idea is to demonstrate an etiquette technique, let your toddler practice it as much as possible, and don’t criticize any mistakes or inconsistencies. I just show a technique again at another time if it isn’t being used properly. Of course with a toddler, inconsistency will typically be the norm.
I’m lucky to know two kind bloggers who made free printables that reinforce lessons in good manners.
Renae from Every Star Is Different made a free grace and courtesy printable pack, which is very helpful for children who are ready to work on the basic rules of introduction. For Zoey’s age, I used the free do’s and don’ts of spreading germs because it’s good manners to practice good hygiene. I simply printed out, laminated, and cut out the cards. I placed them on two small easels on a Montessori Services tray.
If you’d like more ideas for teaching hygiene to a variety of ages, I have a post at Living Montessori Now with lots of Montessori-inspired hygiene lessons to help keep kids healthy.
I used all the cards except the ones about not sharing food and drinks. Zoey enjoyed talking about the do’s and don’ts of hygiene and finding the cards that showed good hygiene/good manners.
Carolyn from Wise Owl Factory specifically made free manners matching cards to go along with my book. There are two versions – with blue backgrounds or white backgrounds. I used both backgrounds to make it clear which set was which. I chose 8 of the most basic manners cards. If you’d like to know how I made the folder for the cards, you can find out more here.
First, I showed each of the cards with its matching pair. Then I demonstrated coughing into an elbow. Zoey thought it was hilarious to practice coughing into her elbow. After that, she matched the cards.
(In case you’re wondering, Zoey’s outfits in the above photos are from Gymboree.)
Using the Sticker Chart
Now whenever Zoey spontaneously uses good manners, I talk about how that was a kind thing to do. You could use a sticker even if your child was reminded. I give Zoey a sticker to place on the chart as part of our counting to 100 good manners. We’re both loving this year’s 100 Acts of Kindness Project!
I’d love to hear what you’re doing for 100 Acts of Kindness … or what type of manners activities you’re using with your toddler!
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